starring Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, Lily Gladstone
screenplay by Kelly Reichardt, based on stories by Maile Meloy
directed by Kelly Reichardt
by Bill Chambers I hate miserablism. I decided Kelly Reichardt wasn't for me after seeing Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, and a few minutes of Meek's Cutoff, because even though they're about deeply unhappy people, their total void of humour bothered me. Relentless self-seriousness is teen angst, and incredibly unbecoming when the people on screen are adults and the filmmakers are, too. There's a moment near the beginning of Certain Women where Jared Harris sobs "Nobody understands how fucking miserable my life is!" (or something to that effect) that could be a panel from the MAD MAGAZINE parody of Reichardt's work, and I nearly fled the theatre until Laura Dern's reaction to Harris's wailing produced some titters in the audience, alerting me to the possibility that I had missed something crucial by not watching Reichardt's movies in public. Perhaps solitude blinds one to any levity in films about gloomy guses and lonesome outcasts. Be that as it may, Certain Women is definitely not as grim or hopeless as Old Joy, et al, despite its absence of anything resembling a conventional happy ending.