Posted: 05/03/2009


Wendy and Lucy

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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Wendy and Lucy is a film about a drifter named Wendy who decides to chuck it all and travel from Indiana to Alaska in an old, broken down Honda with her dog, Lucy. Things go well enough, until she reaches Oregon, where one calamity follows another.
Wendy is caught shoplifting dog food for Lucy, and while she’s detained at the local jail, she’s more worried about her dog being left on the street. Wendy is hard pressed to pay the bail, and sadly, when she returns to the spot where she left Lucy, she’s nowhere to be found.
During her short time in Oregon, Wendy befriends a guard at the local Walgreen’s, who’s kind enough to let her use his cell phone. After deciding to trash her car, because repairs are too costly, Wendy also decides to abandon her beloved Lucy who was found by a local family, because, frankly, she just can’t take care of her.
The film stars Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams, whose dynamic performance earned a 2009 Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead.
The film is a study in perseverance and one young woman’s quest for a better life and how others around her at times are mean and cruel and at other times are generous and caring.
How much does the store guard have to extend himself to help Lucy, other than offering her free use of his cell phone? Just how awful should the grocery store clerk feel, after having Wendy arrested for stealing a couple of items for her dog, which to her represents her life’s blood? And how forgiving should the car repair owner be, when he pretends to give Wendy a discount to tow her car literally across the street into the shop?
I kept wondering while watching the film just what Wendy’s back story could be, because it seems that many people could be in similar situations where they feel that life where they are has become too much to bear. The answer—change of scenery and a new lease on life in unfamiliar surroundings. But the degradation, despair and discouragement that come along with “finding oneself” can also be the triggers that cause one to break down.
Wendy is brave, as she sleeps in the woods, only to be awakened by a thief rummaging through her belongings. She survives that ordeal, all the while watching the man in stark terror, thinking he’ll probably try to rape her, also. He leaves after a while, but not before ranting on about teenage boys creating their own amusement with cardboard boxes. This reference to simple entertainment echoes the simplicity in which the story is told.
Wendy and Lucy is directed by Kelly Reichardt (“Old Joy”), and it received more than 70 top-10 critic’s lists, including Entertainment Weekly, New York Times, American Film Institute and Newsweek.
“A pitch perfect triumph,” writes the New York Times.
“Michelle Williams is Reichardt’s wise, deceptively simple tale,” writes Newsweek.
“One of the year’s very best movies,” writes the Village Voice.
Wendy and Lucy is a beautiful movie, filmed with breathtaking imagery in a town where “the mill once stood.”
The film is available for DVD release by Oscilloscope Laboratories May 5, in a series of collector DVDs using specially crafted, environmentally friendly packaging for its box art.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is a veteran public relations and journalism professional and former journalism professor. She’s publicist for her daughter, Hip-Hop artist Psalm One. A native Chicago South Sider, Elaine was a recent University of Maryland Bio Ethics, Health Disparities & Clinical Trials Fellow and winner of a Black Press Messenger Award.

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