J.D. Lafrance
Certain Women: Criterion Collection DVD Review

Certain Women: Criterion Collection

March 6, 2018

Director: Kelly Reichardt,
Starring: Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, James Le Gros, Jared Harris, Lily Gladstone, Rene Auberjonois, John Getz,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

Kelly Reichardt is a highly regarded filmmaker known for her quietly understated, slice of life dramas like Wendy and Lucy (2008) and Meek’s Cutoff (2010). Her latest film is Certain Women (2016), an adaptation of three short stories by Maile Meloy, drawing from her 2009 book Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It to much acclaim.

All set in Montana, the first story sees a lawyer (Dern) dealing with a difficult client (Harris). The meeting gets off to an awkward start when she shows up late. They’ve obviously met several times and she wants to get rid of him while he comes across as lonely guy fallen on hard times. She feels, and rightly so, that he doesn’t take her legal advice because she’s a woman. Conversely, he just wants someone to listen to him as he is burdened by so much pain, which culminates in a potentially explosive confrontation.

In the next story, a woman (Williams) plans to build her dream home but finds herself at odds with her husband (Le Gros). Their relationship feels a bit strained, as if they are just going through the motions. They meet with an old man (Auberjonois) about acquiring a pile of sandstone rocks from him. He comes across as a bit scattered, which makes for an awkward encounter.

In the final story, a night school teacher (Stewart) develops an unlikely connection with a lonely ranch hand (Gladstone). The former is quite chatty while the latter is more reserved, but they go out for a bite to eat afterwards and make a connection. The ranch hand is one of those people that quietly goes about her work, which Reichardt depicts matter-of-factly.

Certain Women is about how people communicate or are unable to do so in their daily lives. This happens for a variety of reasons, sometimes externally or internally, which is explored over these three stories. Some of the characters are barely invested in a relationship with another and some want so desperately to be in on. The cast is uniformly excellent, inhabiting their respective characters effortlessly. Certain Women continues Reichardt’s particular kind of low-key storytelling, finding poignant moments in every day life.

Special Features:

Reichardt approved this 2K transfer, which faithfully conveys its filmic look with a textured and richly detailed look that is superb.

There is an interview with Kelly Reichardt who talks about what drew to Maile Meloy’s stories and what drew her to the town they shot the film in. She talks about various aspects of her film, like sound design and the look, in an engaging way. She was interested in portraying complicated and flawed characters.

Filmmaker, and one of the film’s producers, Todd Haynes speaks glowingly of Reichardt’s first film and all of her subsequent work. He touches upon the challenges she faced working with male-dominated crews. Haynes also talks about what he likes about Certain Women.

Also included is an interview with Maile Meloy. She recounts how Reichardt approached her and impressions of the filmmaker. She talks about being raised by lawyers and how they provided many good stories that she integrated into her fiction. She praises how faithful the film is to her stories.

Finally, there is a trailer.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 90%

Website: https://www.criterion.com/films/29212-certain-women


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