From odd story to strange, unsettling story, Certain Women depicts the tangentially intersecting lives of three women across Montana. It manages to avoid being a full-on feminist tirade and instead presents a mostly female cast of established actresses playing the part of simple human beings making their lonely, troubled way through life. The film touches on some gender bias issues, such as not being taken seriously by men, but flips the coin by demonstrating weaknesses on all sides.
The plotlines range from Inland Empire star Laura Dern’s pained portrayal of a lawyer struggling with an angry but ultimately harmless client who can’t come to terms with his employer cheating him over a work injury, to the cold, business-minded Gina (Michelle Williams) who is striving to obtain materials to build a house for her broken family, to, perhaps most touching of all, the lonely Jamie (Lily Gladstone), who looks after horses on a ranch and gets hooked on a vulnerable young law teacher played by the ever popular Kristen Stewart.
Director Kellie Reinhardt’s gorgeous analog camera work merges well with the film’s melancholic themes and remarkable scenery. There is constantly a slight feeling of malaise, that something awful might just happen in the next moment – but when Jamie falls asleep at the wheel after a disappointing visit to her unrequited love’s hometown, her car veers off safely into an open field. The tragedy is in the next shot, where she returns to her solitary job shovelling after horses, thoughtfully grooming herself every morning for nobody to see.
The plot inches along slowly to say the least but is loaded with reflections on loneliness, family, career, and most of all the beauty inside the most banal of human interactions. Every awkward silence takes on multiple meanings in the facial expressions of this art movie’s leading ladies. There are no extraneous effects or music as the director relies solely on writing and performance to carry her story.
As should any self-respecting indie film, Certain Women does not provide viewers with quick entertainment or any conventional heroes (or villains, for that matter). It is an excellent choice for anyone sick of cheap thrills and cheesy morals, and who wants to see a breathtaking, thought-provoking picture with believable characters and relatable themes.
Certain Women is released nationwide on 3rd March 2017.
Watch the trailer for Certain Women here: