Wendy and Lucy (2008)
Interview with Co-Producer Neil Kopp
29 July, 2008. “I won’t say enjoy the film cause it’s kind of a downer,” Director Kelly Reichardt said as she introduced her latest film for the cast and crew screening at the Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Todd Haynes, one of the executive producers, offered his support at the intimate gathering. He could be seen giving Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, I’m Not There) a big hug outside after the screening.
Reichardt’s previous film, Old Joy (2006), was released to critical acclaim. She attempts to impart a metaphor that she sees as a new American paradigm, the idea of the lost liberal wandering in the woods, unable to connect to anyone or anything.
Based on a short story by Jon Raymond called Train Choir, Wendy and Lucy is a simple, straightforward story about a young girl (Williams) who sets out on a cross-country journey with her dog at her side, meeting up with significant struggle. A modest budget carried the film, and there is no music save a single, melancholic tune written by Will Oldham, Wendy hums from time to time and the muzak in the grocery store, based on the same tune, but written by Smokey Hormel.
The film is political at the inert level, that is, without ego or delusions of grandeur. Not merely about the triumph of the individual spirit, but perhaps creates an opening for an even greater dialogue. Despite the sense of isolation that is palpably felt, a strong sense of interconnectivity underlies the film. A deep, internal focus reveals a larger complex in which personal success relies upon the aid and success of the greater community.
The film is a part of a larger trend of films, perhaps a new species of art, where the focus converges on the everywhere/anyone (person, place or dog), on the generic, yet in the same turn, singular. No one or any thing is placed on a pedestal, and yet, it all is important.
The film was shown under the section Un Certain Regard (literally, a certain glance, or outlook) at the Cannes Film Festival. A selection of films is honored in this category each year (the other being Competition), in order that international recognition is given to daring and original new films. The film will go on to be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and The New York Film Festival.
Oscilloscope Pictures will be the film’s North American distributor, and it will make its US premier at the Film Forum in New York City on December 10th. The film will open to a wider national expansion in early 2009.