' Cinema Romantico: A Movie Shot From 2016 To Go Home With You

Thursday, January 05, 2017

A Movie Shot From 2016 To Go Home With You

Kelly Reichardt has always opted for minimal narratives and sparse dialogue, preferring to tell her stories through mood, frames and faces. 2016’s “Certain Women” was no different. Telling three different stories of three different women, she begins with a little plot in the first story, hacks away a bit more plot in the second, and leaves us with next to nothing in the last, making Lily Gladstone’s face the preeminent star of the show. Playing a lonely rancher, so isolated from anyone else that she walks into some class she’s never been to for something she’s unfamiliar with, just to hear other people talk. That includes the instructor Beth (Kristen Stewart), who drives all the way in from Livingston, a few hours away, and becomes, unwittingly, the object of the rancher’s affection. The rancher, however, is too timid to really explain how she feels and Beth is too distracted to deduce how the rancher feels and so the whole thing, despite a few brief meals and conversations, just sort of sits there in a holding pattern.

When Beth quits the class, the rancher hops in her truck and drives to Livingston, without an explanation, because who’s she gonna tell? It’s just her, which is made that much more apparent when she arrives in Livingston, she walks the nighttime streets, hands in her coat pockets, silently, peering into windows, a daydream grin on her face, because to her these windows may as well be the holiday window displays at department stores in New York City.


Another director might have cut this sequence. Isn’t she here to see Beth? What does this have to do with anything? But Reichardt knows one shot can explicate volumes. And as the rancher strolls by some warmly lit cafe, peering in, the framing lets you feel both the curiosity and the distance.

The rancher is always outside looking in.

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