CERTAIN WOMEN — Review by Susan Granger

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Kelly Reichardt is a feminist filmmaker, based in Portland, Oregon, known for her minimalism in “River of Grass,” “Old Joy,” “Meek’s Cutoff,” “Night Movies,” “Wendy and Lucy.” Adapting short stories by Maile Meloy, she has created a cinematic portrait of several disparate women set in desolate Livingston, Montana. Read on…

Laura Wells (Laura Dern) is a lawyer whose angry construction worker client Fuller (Jared Harris) refuses to accept the fact that, since he has already accepted a settlement for a workplace injury, he cannot be further compensated. “If I were a man, I could explain the law and people would listen,” she complains.

Alienated Gina Lewis (Michelle Williams) is a wife, mother and business owner who is trying to convince an elderly neighbor (Rene Auberjonois) to sell her some “authentic” local sandstone so that she can use the rocks for the home she’s building with her philandering husband Ryan (James LeGros) and their sullen teenage daughter, Guthrie (Sara Rodler).

Last – but certainly not least – Native American Jamie (Lily Gladstone) is a shy, lonely horse rancher who becomes infatuated with disillusioned Elizabeth Travis (Kristen Stewart), a recent law school graduate who commutes to teach a night class in educational law twice a week at a rural school, as Jamie looks forward to their chats at a nearby diner after class.

As writer/director, Ms. Reichardt is much less concerned with plot than the inner turmoil of her quietly suffering characters, working closely with cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt, eliciting excellent performances from her ensemble. Unfortunately, however, the pacing of her mini-dramas is slow and uneven.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Certain Women” is a meditative, soulful 6, occasionally stunning in its bleak silence.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.