Certain Women (2016)
Critic Consensus: Certain Women further demonstrates writer-director Kelly Reichardt's gift for telling the stories of ordinary people with uncommon empathy and skill.
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as Elizabeth Travis
as The Rancher
as Sheriff Rowles
as Tommy Carroll
as Fuller's Wife
as Diner Waitress
as Tall Man Teacher
as Teacher 1
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Critic Reviews for Certain Women
With the third act, the power of Reichardt's elliptical approach becomes apparent.
This is not a film of big revelations or ready-made solutions. It's gentle and finely executed storytelling about ordinary people longing for connection and meaning as they face the challenges of another day.
If the characters here are often sparing with their words, or even withholding, the visuals speak volumes.
As with all of Reichardt's films, the gems are in the smallest moments -- the half smiles, the non-reactions and the silences between two people barely connecting.
For the most part, these narratives lack the kind of tension between character and setting that have made Reichardt's quiet, modest, measured films so compelling.
Audience Reviews for Certain Women
There's a quiet feminism to each of the three narratives that is always simmering in the background. This isn't new for Reichardt but it feels more focused here.
It is very uninteresting and dull to watch the banality of these women's lives, and while the film does have a good cast, I can't find any meaning in this poorly-put-together anthology of which only the last story seems to have something to say after all.
Certain women are very uninteresting, and much like those certain women, "Certain Women" is very uninteresting. This was my introduction to Kelly Reichardt's cinematic offerings, and the nicest thing I could say is that she knows where to point a camera. Besides a fine, but completely unremarkable performance from Laura Dern and the photography being good, that will be the extent of my congratulations. To say that this film is boring would be an understatement and a bit of an insult to boringness itself. Boring can be good. Boring gives us time to meditate on concepts, to relish the visuals, and to anticipate action and emotion. But this film never has any sort of payoff, and it doesn't even seem to be all that concerned with it's own concept. Women quietly struggle on a day to day basis, especially in rural settings, to attain legitimacy or acceptance, and the tiniest glimmer of hope or assurance can make it all worthwhile. But this movie might be the most bland, wan film I've seen this year, and doubly so because it hardly focuses on that cornerstone of a concept. If the script had been longer than 6 pages, and if they would have replaced the horse feeding sequences that take up a third of the movie with, I don't know, some dialogue or a plot, it might have turned out better. The characters hardly interact with each other, and if the half-hearted attempt to tie what are essentially vignettes centered around Dern, Michelle Williams, and Lily Gladstone together had any purpose other than "They live in Montana", maybe this would have some deeper purpose or meaning. But no, all we see is that women have a difficult time, and they are sad or resigned about it. If you are a certain person, the kind that likes things to happen in their movies, you will certainly not like this film.
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