(We're reposting our Wendy and Lucy review to coincide with the film's theatrical release)

By: Kim Voynar

Director Kelly Reichardt's much-anticipated follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2006 fest circuit hit, Old Joy, continues to show Reichardt's remarkable gift for classically simple, deeply engaging storytelling. Wendy and Lucy is the story of Wendy (Michelle Williams), a down-on-her-luck girl who's hoping to turn things around for herself with a summer job at a fishing cannery in Alaska.

Wendy's making the trek from Indiana to Alaska in her beat-up Honda, accompanied only by her dog, Lucy, and about $600 to make the entire trip. When her car breaks down in a small Oregon town, Wendy is forced to make a series of increasingly difficult choices, and to rely upon the kindness (or not) of strangers to resolve her plight.

Wendy loses Lucy in this small, insular town at a time when she most needs the comfort of her canine companion to pull her through. Her agony in losing her only friend in this time of personal crisis is palpable; when Wendy endlessly walks the streets calling for Lucy, her increasing desperation rings through in the tiny wavering of her voice on the edge of emotional breakdown. The kindness of an aged security guard becomes the sole tether that keeps Wendy from losing it completely; Wendy's relationship with the guard shows how the kindness of a single stranger to a person in need can make the difference between holding it together or falling apart.