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VIFF 2008: Rush to Judgment Occurs a Little Too Soon, It Seems


The prevailing opinion on Wednesday was that VanRamblings had rushed to judgment, respecting the quality of films screening at this year's Festival. In a mid-afternoon tête-à-tête outside the Granville 7, following a screening of the utterly fabulous Wendy and Lucy, cinephile John Skibinski suggested to VanRamblings that, "For years, the stronger films have screened in the 2nd week. Although it's true that nothing has blown me away thus far, there are a great many worthy films yet to screen in the nine days to come."

Wendy and Lucy (Grade: A): Kelly Reichardt is the goddess of minimalist filmmaking. In Wendy and Lucy, there's not one wasted word, nor one scene that is not pivotal to an understanding, and the development, of character and the outcome of the movie. In 80 spare minutes, Reichardt takes us deeper inside the economic and social malaise of the dispossessed than any other filmmaker in America could possibly be capable of.

Michelle Williams is utterly devastating as Wendy Carroll, a drifter passing through Oregon with her dog Lucy, on their way to what she hopes will be a better life, and gainful employment, in Alaska. With dignity and grace, Williams portrays a strong yet vulnerable young woman for whom nothing seemingly has gone right. We fear the worst for her throughout the film, and that real tragedy does not befall her by movie's end is the greatest gift writer-director Reichardt will provide to any film audience this year.

For VanRamblings, films like Wendy and Lucy, and Cate Shortland's equally bleak 2004 Australian export, Somersault - films where the central female character continually places herself in harm's way, bereft of an instinct for survival that would occur to almost any one of us - are very real horror films, where every human emotion causes the viewer to want to yell out at the screen for the character not to move in a particular injurious direction. Sometimes the despair is so great, the pain so devastating, that you have to avert your eyes from the screen. Wendy and Lucy is one of our favourite films to screen at the 27th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, thus far in the Festival's 2008 programme. Screens twice more, Sat, Oct 4 @ 1pm, Gran7, Th7; and Tue, Oct 7 @ 9pm, Gran7, Th4. A must-see.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 1, 2008 11:17 PM in VIFF 2008


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