On Moonlight‘s victory at this year’s Academy Awards, American Filmmaker, Kelly Reichardt, admitted: “It was a shelter from the storm of a really mean year.  was so brutal and harsh, and with Moonlight suddenly you felt you were in a world with some kindness. Not sentimentality, but just kindness”.
Reichardt has been at the forefront of modern American indie filmmaking for the past few years. Her latest feature, Certain Women, premiered at Sundance in January 2016 and won the Best Film Award at the 60th British Film Festival last year. The BFI jury revealed Certain Women was:
“A humane and poignant story that calibrates with startling vulnerability and delicate understatement the isolation, frustrations and loneliness of lives unlived in a quiet corner of rural America”.
Variety magazine has called Reichardt “the quietest of great American filmmakers”. Her films often take an unconventional and slow pace that might require some adjustments. Her characters, often women, are not ones you usually encounter in your typical movie experience. Reichardt focuses on those who live outside the system and those who take risks. Determined and radical souls, who don’t conform to society’s idea of success.
On her characters Reichardt likes to say: “They’re a product of the places they’re from and their troubles — their everyday troubles”.
From Night Moves, to Wendy And Lucy and her latest Certain Women, her films can, somehow, all be classified as westerns. Horses, trains and lonesome stories, characteristic of the genre, often fill the screen.
The unique performances, elicited by Reichardt from her cast can partly be attributed to the difficult conditions under which her actors are asked to perform. Wild animal appearances and extreme weather are ones of the few perks one can expect on Kelly Reichardt‘s set. Certain Women, started filming in March in Montana and the temperature was below freezing but perhaps ideal to create a sense of isolation and solitude.
Reichardt keeps away from the Hollywood lifestyle. The few months she spent there led to her making short Super 8 films that she insisted “were really not good”. She has since then returned to New York, where she resides and develops most of her projects. Working outside the system, earned her the privilege to control the editing. Although it may have started because she could not afford an editor, Reichardt still edits most of her films.
“Nobody comes into my editing room, ever. […] Art by committee is a really bad idea”.
Certain Women, adapted from short stories of the 2009 collection Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It by the Montana-born writer, Maile Meloy, is a three-part story exploring the lives of small-town Montana women.
Laura Dern is a lawyer dealing with a disgruntled client. Unhappily married Michelle Williams takes an awkward family camping trip on the land on which she wants to build her new house. Finally, Lily Gladstone is a young ranch hand who crashes an evening class and develops a crush on the teacher played by Kristen Stewart.
Reichardt told Alice Gregory from The New York Times, that in Certain Women, she wants to focus on the cruelty of inattention and the mechanical motions that makes up a person’s day.
“Where does someone who lives in a car brush her teeth each morning? What does someone working two jobs look like, move like at the end of the day, knowing she’s about to get up and do it all again?”
Not rushing to the destination, Reichardt prefers to explore the reality of characters’ journeys and the uncontrollable factors they must deal with. She captures in a most compassionate way, stories, to often untold, in environments, to often unexplored, dealing with issues, so easily avoided.
The BFI is kicking of Women’s History Month by dedicating the month of March to the talented Female filmmaker, Kelly Reichardt. Her most popular features will be screened including Meek’s Cutoff (2010), I’m Not There (2007), Poison (1990) and Night Moves (2013). Certain Women was released in the UK on March 3.