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Wendy and Lucy (2008)


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 150
Fresh: 128 | Rotten: 22

Critics Consensus: Michelle Williams gives a heartbreaking performance in Wendy and Lucy, a timely portrait of loneliness and struggle.

Average Rating: 7.3/10
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 5

Critics Consensus: Michelle Williams gives a heartbreaking performance in Wendy and Lucy, a timely portrait of loneliness and struggle.


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 11,693


Movie Info

Old Joy director Kelly Reichardt crafts this intimate tale of Wendy, an alienated Indiana woman who packs up her car and sets her sights on Alaska, but finds herself stranded in a small Oregon town with no money and only her faithful dog, Lucy, to keep her company. When Wendy realizes that there's nothing keeping her in her home state of Indiana, she makes the decision to relocate to Alaska and seek out work at the local fish cannery. With her four-legged friend Lucy in the passenger seat next … More

R (for language)
Directed By:
Written By:
Kelly Reichardt , Jonathan Raymond
In Theaters:
May 5, 2009
Box Office:
Oscilloscope Pictures



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Critic Reviews for Wendy and Lucy

All Critics (152) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (128) | Rotten (22) | DVD (8)

Williams and Patton and the folks of this corner of Oregon serve up a slice of "indie" that, if it doesn't reach the level of "inspires," at least feels timely and true.

Full Review… | March 18, 2009
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Within the confines of this minimalist (with a microscopic m) picture, there are sequences so vital, timely and of-the-moment, so powerful and well-observed and precise, the effect can be emotionally overwhelming.

Full Review… | March 12, 2009
Miami Herald
Top Critic

Wendy and Lucy is quiet, deliberate filmmaking. See it knowing you will witness an idiosyncratic take on storytelling by a fundamentally independent filmmaker.

Full Review… | March 6, 2009
Denver Post
Top Critic

This brilliant, desperately sad Steinbeckian fable from American director Kelly Reichardt. It's Reichardt's third full-length feature ('Old Joy' was in cinemas last year), but only her first masterpiece.

Full Review… | March 6, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

Deliberately paced -- slow, even -- it's nevertheless an amazing, timely parable for increasingly desperate times.

Full Review… | February 26, 2009
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

Wendy and Lucy is a short, sweet film with a premise as plain as they come: A girl and her dog drift into town.

Full Review… | February 20, 2009
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

The final scenes will tear your heart out, but perhaps not in the way you expect.

Full Review… | September 15, 2013

Wendy and Lucy is the blues, pure and simple.

Full Review… | August 16, 2011
East Bay Express

The film ends on a devastating farewell, but also imparts important empathy to Wendy: Although she's at the bottom of the barrel, there are those still inescapably trapped beneath its weight. This is the downbeat, dejected truth of pure pennilessness.

Full Review… | December 2, 2010

The pace of real life is the rhythm that drives Reichardt's beautifully minimalist film.

Full Review… | June 13, 2010

Kelly Reichardt spends the 75 minutes of Wendy and Lucy weaving an intimate, narrowly focused story of unanchored life on the road and just how tenuous such an existence is.

Full Review… | August 30, 2009
Washington Times

Bruises while barely raising its voice

Full Review… | August 26, 2009

If Wendy and Lucy isn't the most dynamic movie around, at least its tone and approach are sure-footed and appropriate.

Full Review… | May 1, 2009

Wendy and Lucy gets under your nails, which is to say, it's the stuff of life.

Full Review… | April 30, 2009
Projection Booth

Director co-writer Kelly Reichardt ... has fashioned a cautionary tale for the ages.

Full Review… | April 19, 2009 American Bicycle Thief, a simple, powerful film about the oppressive indignity of being poor in a wealthy country.

Full Review… | April 17, 2009
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This is not a saccharine, Marley & Me-type tale, but a wrenchingly ordinary story, emotionally manipulative in its own way -- I know my heart was in my throat -- about poverty in the land of plenty.

Full Review… | April 9, 2009
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A year from now it won't be a blip on my conscious mind. If someone mentions it to me, it'll register as 'oh, yeah, that depressing movie about the woman and her dog.'

Full Review… | April 2, 2009
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

[Williams] doesn't have to say much to convey the deep wells of hurt that Wendy's carrying around, and they're all the more poignant for remaining unspoken.

Full Review… | March 27, 2009
Time Out Sydney

For thoughtful filmgoers, this is a very timely and affecting study of what happens as one by one social props are stripped away and ties are broken.

Full Review… | March 27, 2009
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

If you've ever lost a pet dog, or found yourself at the wrong end of an irreparably diminished bank account, Wendy And Lucy is the kind of film that will break your heart.

Full Review… | March 27, 2009
FILMINK (Australia)

Kelly Reichardt's devastating little film has attracted a lot of admiration since its debut at Cannes last year, partly because of its timeliness.

Full Review… | March 27, 2009
Sydney Morning Herald

The narrative has been pared to the bone, and that was a problem for me. We know nothing about Wendy, who she really is, why she left Indiana, what she hopes to do in Alaska -- apart from find a job.

Full Review… | March 27, 2009
At the Movies (Australia)

The affecting, minimalist film Wendy and Lucy proves that small-town dramas aren't dead, but small towns, at least in the Mellencamp-idealist sense, are.

Full Review… | March 23, 2009
Orlando Weekly

Exquisitely simple, this pearl of a film is an ode to freedom.

Full Review… | March 20, 2009
Urban Cinefile

The performance ranks right behind Melissa Leo's amazing thespian turn in "Frozen River."

Full Review… | March 18, 2009
Entertainment Spectrum

Audience Reviews for Wendy and Lucy

Wendy and Lucy is a beautiful film. Subtle, minimalist, slow-paced, - my kind of film! The ending is heartbreaking, It's almost too sad for it to be a happy ending but that is exactly what it is. Without being preachy, Wendy and Lucy reminds us that times are tough and sometimes we have to make tough decisions and huge sacrifices but by regaining a sense of integrity and raising up above conviction, everything can be alright in the end. Kelly Reichardt has succeeded in turning the mundane into an uplifting and heart-warming tale, that captures what being human is all about, beautifully at that.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer


I appreciated the "contemporary Jack London story" vibe of this one, but it's hard to invest in such a thin plot: a woman with nothing but her dog loses her dog. Minimalist film, and based on a short story, but there's just not quite enough here - even for its paltry 80 minutes.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

There isn't much to this film in that it has a stable plot or can carry a story. It's more a portrait of a sad lonely, pathetically poor girl who can't catch a break no matter what. It really is a heart wrenching film because of the time it was set and the probable fact that many people have gone through this phase of life and have been met with a cool, cruel world. Wendy has very little money, no job, and a car that is giving her trouble. One mistake prompts an avalanche of bad luck from the dinky Oregon town where she is stranded. One user has commented that she finds the townspeople to be kind in the face of the disparity of her situation, and she in turn should be kind. I'm not sure if this film is trying to be at all uplifting or commenting on people still having empathy during any economic crisis or for people suffering through it. It's more just about Wendy as a person, the trials of her life, and the sacrifices she has to make to survive, some of them heartbreaking to watch. She gives up all sense of pride in this film and comes out looking more saddened than anything. People in our country were one paycheck away from living on the streets as of 2008, and even today, so this film is full of commentary on the state of our nation. More importantly though, this film is timeless because of the empathy any of us feel for another human being and the struggles we all must go through in order to survive. Wendy does survive, and most of the film reflects her solidarity, her losses, and isolation. Overall I found this to be more of a downer than anything, with a strong performance from Michelle Williams, as she again exhibits all the qualities of the great actress she is. Worth seeing, no matter what year it is.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

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