Savour the detail / by Sarah Wishart

Sarah Wishart could have watched the characters in Kelly Reichardt’s latest film Certain Women all night long

Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women opens with a view of a wide horizon, a circle of mountains and a train moving inexorably towards us. It is such a long train, with so many cars, that from this point it is impossible to see the end. I want to watch it go fully past, as I’m immediately bought into the languid feeling this film is setting out. I’m disappointed though, as despite a long shot, the camera eventually moves elsewhere. As the shot pans over the industrial buildings that make up Livingston, the town in the lost wilds of the US, a horn sounds, the endless train is still travelling through. The tone is set for a film of vignettes, of stories and lives threading back and forth, with any connection that might take place being momentary.

The film, adapted from short stories by American writer Maile Meloy, is made up of three key stories that glance off each other rather than intertwining. Each story has a central woman protagonist. The first involves lawyer Laura Wells (Laura Dern) whose client (a local man Fuller, played by Jared Harris) is embroiled in a workplace accident case. The second depicts Gina (Michelle Williams) building a house in the countryside outside of Livingston. The third story focuses on The Rancher (Lily Gladstone), living a solitary life in Belfry, a four-hour drive away. One night she goes to a night class on a whim and becomes fascinated by Elizabeth (Kristen Stewart), a recently graduated lawyer from Livingston, trying to make ends meet by driving out to Belfry to teach. The overlap in these stories is not the focus, yet it does exist. Laura is having an affair with Gina’s husband and at some point The Rancher comes to Laura’s Livingston office, searching for Elizabeth.

This is an extract from a review I wrote for the F-Word website.  The full review can be seen here....