This is a movie that should never have been made. “Certain Women” is a compilation of three stories that just end without a conclusion that ties the three stories together. Also, because there is a lack of depth in the material, the director, Kelly Reichardt, fills in the void with protracted shots of getting dressed, feeding horses and long drives through the Montana countryside at night. When the film ended, I didn’t get it.
“Certain Women” provides an insight into a handful of women’s lives in Montana. A lawyer tries to diffuse a hostage situation and calm her disgruntled client, who feels slighted by a workers’ compensation settlement. A married couple breaks ground on their new home but marital fissures are exposed when they try to persuade an elderly man to sell his stockpile of sandstone. A female ranch hand falls in love with young female lawyer who teaches her class. The lawyer is unhappily forced to teach a twice-weekly adult education class four hours from her home.
The cinematography is beautiful. Montana, in the winter, is gorgeous as long as you are looking at it and not standing in the middle of it.
The actors and actresses give adequate performances. Laura Dern plays Laura Wells, a lawyer. Michelle Williams is Gina Lewis. Kristen Stewart also plays a lawyer. Rene Auberjonis is Albert and Lily Gladstone steals the show as Jamie a lovesick ranch hand.
The screenplay was written by Kelly Reichardt based on Maile Meloy’s short story collection Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It. There isn’t enough depth in the material to create a full length motion picture. Movies “move” to a conclusion and this one doesn’t.
The local movie houses have not posted the movies that will open this week as I write this column; but, I will be surprised if it is released in the metro east. You will probably have to go to St. Louis to see “Certain Women.” Please save your money and see “Inferno” instead. You can’t go wrong with Tom Hanks.
My website has been reworked and renamed cinemachatter.com. Look for more movie reviews on the website.