Movie Review: IFC Films' Certain Women


Certain Women
108 MIN / USA / ENGLISH / R
Running Time: 108 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
One of America’s foremost filmmakers, Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff) directs a remarkable ensemble cast led by Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, and Laura Dern in this stirring look at three women striving to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of the American Northwest: a lawyer (Dern) who finds herself contending with both office sexism and a hostage situation; a wife and mother (Williams) whose determination to build her dream home puts her at odds with the men in her life; and a young law student (Stewart) who forms an ambiguous bond with a lonely ranch hand (radiant newcomer Lily Gladstone). As their stories intersect in subtle but powerful ways, a portrait emerges of flawed, but strong-willed individuals in the process of defining themselves.


This week, I ventured to an art house theater to view Certain Women. I went-in knowing not to expect guns blazing or car chases, but hoping for a meaningful theater experience, nonetheless. Certain Women was nothing that I hoped for.

Certain Woman is an anthology of very loosely tied-together stories of everyday women. The emphasis of the story is the "everyday" part of my previous thought. Think mundane.  The movie operates like an open window into the lives of these women doing the most ordinary of tasks. The plot included a stone purchase and a camping trip. There were also, what seemed like endless, repetitions of putting horses out to pasture.

I didn't get it. I don't understand why a cast, including Laura Dern and Michelle Williams, wasn't better utilized.  The title, Certain Women, conjures notions of certain special women, something that would be fitting in today's social climate. But that isn't what this cast delivers. The audience gets a whole lot of ordinary, and some depression.

The scenery was breathtaking. The cinematography was also well-done. It's almost impossible to badly capture the gorgeous country backdrop, so as majestic as the scenery looked, it didn't seem like a feat to accomplish. 

Certain Women must have been over my head.  There had to have been some message that I missed because I was bored out of my mind! It was painful. I would like to think that I have a diverse movie palette. All movies can't be romantic comedies or action blow-outs. But Certain Women didn't entertain, enlighten, educate, or stir me in the slightest.  I can't recommend it.  If you want to see Certain Women in theaters, you'll have to look for an art house theater playing it. It's in limited release now. 


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