While I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to take away from the movie’s trailer, I can’t deny how intrigued I am by it. The most I can gather is that it’s one of those movies that’s telling the story of multiple people that have little to nothing to do with each other. Kristen Stewart looks like she’s playing a first-time school teacher, maybe a substitute, in a possible lesbian relationship. Laura Dern a lawyer to her ex, and Michelle Williams… actually, I have no idea what her story’s all about. Either way… it looks to be a very laid back flick about life and its everyday conflicts involving these everyday women. Considering how overblown a lot of movies have been over the last few weeks, how big and grand-scaled they’ve gotten, I think I’m looking forward to this movie more than I need to be.
Let’s take a look at the cast… whom I’ve pretty much gone over already. Well, whatever, here we go again anyway because this is my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want. ^_^ See? I can put smileys if I wanted. Okay, getting WAY off track now. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said a million times, but for those of you not in the know, I have no problems with Stewart. She’s a fine actress who’s done good work before, but thanks to the Twilight movies, she’s labeled as a talentless girl who can’t emote. Twilight was bad, and yes, Stewart was bad in them, but that wasn’t her fault. If you’re an actor and you’re handed a bad script with an equally bad character to portray, the best of the best wouldn’t be able to save it. Check out movies like THE CAKE EATERS (2007), PANIC ROOM (2002), and STILL ALICE (2014) to see what I mean. Williams, is also a fine actress, but not my favorite. She’s known for OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (2013), SHUTTER ISLAND (2010), and TV show DAWSON’S CREEK. Jared Harris, whom I haven’t mentioned yet, is a pretty recognizable man having been in some solid hits over his career, including, THE BOXTROLLS (2014), LINCOLN (2012), and SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS (2011). Finally, Dern is one my earliest Hollywood crushes. Why? Two words. JURASSIC PARK (1993)! She’s one of the best actresses (I feel like I say this a lot about women I have crushes on), and has been in some pretty damn good movies, like, WILD (2014), THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (2014), and OCTOBER SKY (1999).
Now for behind the scenes. Directing and writing is Kelly Reichardt. She’s mostly done indie films such as NIGHT MOVES (2013), MEEK’S CUTOFF (2011), and WENDY AND LUCY (2008). Finally, the cinematographer is Christopher Blauvelt, who’s known for INDIGNATION (2016), THE BLING RING (2013), and many of Reichart’s movies.
Honestly, I’m looking forward to the change of pace in story telling, so I guess I am looking forward to this. But lets see how it turns out.
This is my honest opinion of: CERTAIN WOMEN
The story follows the lives of three different women. Laura Wells (Laura Dern) is a lawyer who has a disgruntled client named Fuller (Jared Harris), feeling like the workers compensation he received from his company wasn’t enough and he wants more. Gina Lewis (Michelle Williams) is a married woman trying to build a house in the woods with her family and wants an elderly neighbor to sell them the sandstone on his property. Finally, Jamie (Lily Gladstone) is a ranch hand who tends to horses. Seeing some folks going into a school, she follows them into a classroom for school law, taught by a young teacher named Beth Travis (Kristen Stewart), whom Jamie develops a fondness for.
Um… well, I got that mellow movie I was looking for… kinda. Yeah, there’s some overly dramatic moments that I felt were out of place.
So lets go through each story, shall we?
Lets start with Dern and Harris. Bit of a disclaimer, I actually arrived a little late for the movie. Probably not more than five minutes, but I wager some context was missing for me. Of course, both actors are great, as expected. The story starts off exactly as I would expect it to. This woman is a lawyer whose client is a bit unstable and she’s frustrated because her client won’t listen to her. But then later, he’s gone back to his job’s office building and holds a person hostage. I know this is technically glanced over in the trailer, but… I don’t know, again, I guess I was hoping for real problems solved or dealt with by real women. I know this sort of thing has happened before, but again, it just seems like a dramatic turn of events that could have been handled simpler for this story.
Next, Williams and her story. Again, my main problem is that there’s good ideas here, but they’re almost rushed through and given no time to really allow the weight of conflict to really matter. Gina’s daughter is a bratty teenager who doesn’t want to contribute to the building of a house in the woods and constantly has an attitude about it and her husband is kind of a useless character. The idea of this story, I gathered, is about a charmless woman who is constantly undermined by her charming, more personable husband. This would be a fine story as well were it not for the fact that Gina isn’t very likable. Why does she need this sandstone from this man? So her house can be “authentic?” First of all, the hell does that even mean? Does she even know that this sandstone has meaning to her neighbor? It just sort of baffles me that it matters so much to her, I’m almost on the husband’s side when he tells the man he doesn’t have to sell his sandstone to them.
Finally, it’s Stewart and Gladstone’s story. This story is probably the most unrealistic one of the bunch. First off, while I know young teachers exist out there, tell me if this sounds at all like a thing: a mid-twenties young woman teaching a class’ curriculum that she has to learn every day before work… a job that is twice a week… and a FOUR HOUR DRIVE THERE AND BACK HOME!!! Man, when I looked at this trailer, I thought I was going to get a story about a smart young woman who has to prove herself to her family of underachievers and be taken seriously by her much older students, but… damn it, we get something that, for a story seemingly meant to be simple, ends up being so far-fetched that even the Loony Toons are calling bullshit on its realism.
I know that Fuller is distraught over what happened to him, but I didn’t find his motivations compelling enough to react the way he did, both in the car with Laura, or his eventual hostage crisis. The settlement he accepted wasn’t enough to pay the… bills, mortgage, I forget which. In the end, what, he didn’t do the math? Saw what the company was offering, compare that to what he’d need, and just… overlooked that little detail? I feel like there were other ways out of this situation for him, but bad writing compelled him otherwise. And I don’t know if this was intentional by Reichardt, but just how stupid did Harris’ character have to be? “Pretend that I’m holding the gun up to you while I sneak away and escape through the back.” “Um… okay.” Few seconds later, “He’s going out the back!” Who the fuck is that stupid?!
Bouncing back to Jaime’s story, it gets… so much worse. While I give praise that the flick doesn’t explicitly say that Jamie is a lesbian or anything, the way they handle her is… creepy. Look, it’s one thing to go out to a local diner for a bite to eat and talk about personal stuff. That’s not the problem. The problem is thinking that those interactions warrant this: after maybe two weeks worth of teaching, Beth finally throws in the towel and finds a job much closer to her home. But here’s how Jaime reacts… BY IMMEDIATELY DRIVING FOUR HOURS TO HER HOMETOWN TO FIND HER!!! Holy ass-wipe… she doesn’t even find her the first night. She sleeps in her truck and then finds her after scouring every nearby law office. Seriously, would anyone in real life think this shit to be romantic, charming, or awesome in any way? I’m at a loss. And when she does miraculously find her, Beth takes it… unnaturally well. Granted, she’s more speechless and stunned, so worse reactions could have been written, but… yeah, it’s still not a good one. Then guess what? The interaction is probably no more than two minutes long and concludes with Jaime driving four hours back home… falling asleep at the wheel no less when she’s practically home, driving through a fence and into a hay field.
I don’t know what poetic movie the critics were watching, but I don’t think I was watching the same flick. It’s not as interesting as the trailer made it out to be, but if you want that subdued, non-earth shaking kind of movie, this is about as mellow as you can get. It’s over the top in its own itty bitty way and feels incredibly pretentious. I can’t recommend it unless you have that “girl power” urge. But if you want that, just watch the Hunger Games films… or MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015).
My honest rating for CERTAIN WOMEN: a weak 3/5
And that’s all she wrote. But get this, a grand total of NINE new movies are coming out next week. It’s going to be rough, but I’m going for it. But before I get into that fun list, here’s my weekly horror/holiday movie list:
- TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL (2010)
- THE SHALLOWS (2016)
- CORALINE (2009)
- THE CONJURING (2013) / THE CONJURING 2 (2016)
- JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK
- KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES
- OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL
- BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN
- AMERICAN PASTORAL
- THE HANDMAIDEN