Guest Review: Certain Women (2016)

Based on a series of short stories by author Maile Maloy, Certain Women follows the lives of three women who live in Montana: A lawyer, played by Laura Dern, who has a rocky bond with one of her clients, a married woman named Gina, played by Michelle Williams, who plans to build a house from the ground up with her husband, and a ranch hand named Jamie, played by Lily Gladstone, who falls for a law school student played by Kristen Stewart who seems unaware of the feelings that Jamie has for her.

Now the plots of all these stories seem simple. But that’s because there isn’t much conflict or resolution. At heart, this is really just a “slice of life” picture like Boyhood. The story is different but it has a similar idea because in both films, there is really no arc or hardly any drama that takes place. While this does allow for meditative filmmaking, at the same time, it’s bound to alienate audiences who hate slow movies.

The performances by the main actresses are still strong, though. Laura Dern and Michelle Williams are as good as they always are. But the real showstopper in my opinion is Lily Gladstone. She hardly wastes each frame she has and can hold your attention with just the use of her luminous eyes. Everything from her nervous affections to quiet heartbreak all felt so real and lived in. She makes you wish the entire film revolved around her and I hope Hollywood takes note of this bright young talent. Kristen Stewart also deserves a special shoutout for her work as the object of Jamie’s affection as she and Gladstone have very grounded and natural chemistry.

Other than the performances, I don’t know if there is much to really add. Like I said, there isn’t much of a plot going in each story. But if you are a fan of “slice of life” movies, you may get some sort of fulfillment out of this. If you aren’t a fan of these types of movies, then this one will likely feel like watching paint dry. I would still maybe suggest checking it out for Lily Gladstone’s performance because she is just aces.

Score: 6.5/10

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