An honestly shot film with a pacing that gives you plenty of time to think "there but for the grace of god, go I".
Watching the American promise unravel in this no holds barred slice of life was a bit discomforting; but that was the film's intent - portraying a 20 ish young woman of limited means with no safety net to fall back on - her only constant being her canine companion.
When her car breaks down in a decaying slurb in Oregon she realizes that her limited funds can't be stretched to cover the repairs and the cost of getting her to Alaska (where there is the promise of a decent paying job). In order to stretch her funds she decides to do some minor shoplifting, which triggers an unfortunate series of events that include the loss of her pet.
There is little else that goes on in the film, just little slices of life as Wendy tries to get her car repaired and recover her dog.
Without her car (which doubles as her hotel room), she is forced to sleep in a park, where in a suspensful scene she is confronted by a crazed drifter who thankfully loses interest in her and doesn't attack or rob her. The following scene where she has a near breakdown in a Shell Station bathroom aptly portrays her terror at not only what she just escaped, but gives you a feeling of the pressure she is under simply trying to survive.
Ultimately, she rediscovers her dog, but then makes a heartwrenching choice before hopping on a freight train headed north.
The sparceness and directness of the filming does a wonderful job of amplifying the feeling of a woman detached, with the walls closing in; her simple plan thwarted by a deck stacked against her. There is humanity here, and with the exception of a clueless do-gooder stock boy, most of the people Wendy comes in contact with are good simple folk who, in their limited ways, try to help her or cut her a break - but can do little to stem the tide of bad luck that seems to follow her. When you're living on the edge, it doesn't take much of an effort to push you over - but here, while not offering redemption, Wendy somehow has the strength to continue to doggedly persue her plan.