Some art films present a “slice of life”. An unfiltered look at the world that avoids the tropes of the Hollywood movie. People get up every day, go to work and buy groceries. Very rarely are superheroes or giant robots involved in the day-to-day.
These are films that strive for The Truth. And they can be incredibly boring if you are not in the mood. Movies like Boyhood gain a sense of intimacy from the style while a movie like Vincent Gallo’s Brown Bunny is a torture experiment as we watch him drive for the majority of the film.
Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women unfortunately belongs to the latter group of Nothing Happens Cinema and is a bit of a torture to witness. We are shown the lives of three women in an episodic format. Laura Dern is an attorney struggling with a difficult client. Michelle Williams is a mother struggling with a pile of rock and Lily Gladstone is a horse hand struggling with unrequited love.
Gladstone’s story is watchable with a heartbreaking moment capping the story and stealing the show. Other than that this is a meandering film that fails to gather any life. Both Dern and Williams- both fantastic actors most of the time- hit the same note throughout .
Blah and bland and deeply boring, Certain Women merely exists.
I am not a smart man and when a film like this hits me with such a dull thud I always have a paranoid reaction that I just didn’t “get it”. This time around, I can’t care. This was a legitimate waste of time. For Deep Art House Fans only.