★★★★ | CERTAIN WOMEN
The lives of three women are told in the beautifully acted new film ‘Certain Women.’
Three women all lead totally separate lives from each other, yet their lives become slightly intertwined. First there is lawyer Laura (Laura Dern). Her client, Fuller (Jared Harris), is disgruntled because he is not able to work anymore due to an injury caused at work, and he can’t sue the company because he has already received a small settlement. So it’s up to Laura to deal with him and his reckless behaviour that eventually leads to a hostage situation and standoff with police. Laura is having an affair with Ryan (James Le Gros), who happens to be the husband of Gina (Michelle Williams). Ryan and Gina are building a new house in the countryside and they need sandstone, so they visit a local man who has a pile of it in his front yard. Yet while they are building their new home together, they don’t appear to be totally happy. In fact, Ryan always seems to undermine her in front of their daughter, while Gina is just Gina going through the motions. The best is yet to come in the third story. Jamie (Lily Gladstone) is a ranch hand who lives on a farm. She appears to be very lonely until one day she decides to walk into an adult education class taught by young lawyer Beth (Kristen Stewart). They start eating together after class but Beth always has to cut it short because she’s got a four hour drive home. Their after class get togethers are misinterpreted by Jamie because she is falling for Beth, and she’s not sure Beth feels the same. Beth, meanwhile, happens to work at Laura’s firm. Hence the intersection of the lives of these three certain women.
‘Certain Women’ is a simple, quiet film, one where the acting takes center stage. Gladstone is the standout – her Jamie is painfully alone, and all she wants is for someone to be with. Williams has a quiet yet powerful role as a woman who doesn’t appear to be totally happy in life yet soldiers on. Dern has a meaty role as the lawyer who has to deal with a volatile client. It’s Stewart who brings it all down a notch. Using her typical acting style (she always seems to be playing herself), she doesn’t add any energy or likability to her Beth. Written and directed by Kelly Reichardt, ‘Certain Women,’ based on several short stories, is particularly aimed at a female audience, an audience who can appreciate and relate to the strong female characters in this film.
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.