Wendy and Lucy (2008)

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Released 18-Nov-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer-(1.38)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 77:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kelly Reichardt
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Michelle Williams
Lucy
David Koppell
Max Clement
Sid Shanley
Dave Hubner
Michelle Worthey
Will Oldham
Wally Dalton
Roger D. Faires
Boggs Johnson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    A gem of recent independant American cinema, Wendy and Lucy is a poignant tale of a young woman faced with a key crisis in her little life - the loss of her dog.

Wendy, played by an intense Michelle Williams, is a woman living at the margins of society. She is driving her way from Indiana to Alaska where she hopes to make a new start. In a refreshing change from Hollywood cinema we learn very little of her backstory. In a phone conversation with her sister it is hinted that Wendy may have borrowed off them a few times before. She is no drug addict or alcoholic - just a solitary person. Well, semi-solitary. Lucy, her dog, is a constant companion.

The trip still has some ways to go when Wendys finances hit a snag. Her car, which she has been sleeping in, stops working and she takes a chance at shoplifting to get some food for Lucy, dutifully tied up outside the store. Unfortunately, an eagle-eyed junior shoppie spots her and Wendy is dragged off to the police station to be booked. When she emerges much later Lucy is gone.

So begins a frustrating, touching, heart-wrenching search for the only real friend in Wendy's life. Wendy and Lucy is a short film (77 minutes) and co-writer/director/editor Kelly Reichardt keeps her camera constantly on the bewildered Wendy never allowing us to lose sight of her plight. Big Hollywood star Williams has had many bigger roles but never a better one. She plays Wendy with searing honesty. She is a woman who is wilfully outside the system, riding rail cars like a hobo of old, washing in gas station toilets. Wendy is not dislikeable but she is not immediately warming either. The tale recalls the film Umberto D by Vittorio de Sica when an old man scours the streets of Rome to find his lost dog, ramping up the tension when he finds out that the pound routinely euthenizes unclaimed dogs. The stories are united by the fact that both characters have poverty as a constant. If Wendy had the spare money to fix her car, if she could buy the food, if she could stay in a hotel instead of sleep in her car - maybe none of this would have happened.

What also makes the tale so moving and honest is that Reichardt doesn't overplay the obstacles. The security guard who tells Wendy that she can't leave her car in the parking lot, the police officers, the mechanic who charges her $30 to tow her car from the street in front of his yard into the yard, even the grocery store clerk - they are all people just doing their job without any intention to cause her harm.Ultimately, that is the question that the film poses. What are our responsibilities as humans to help others and is the American Dream real or just imagined.

Wendy and Lucy caused some stir in Indie Film circles but not much heat elsewhere. That is a pity. It is a fine film and one which lingers long after the final credits roll.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   Wendy and Lucy was shot on 16mm film and blown up to 35mm for cinematic release.

The DVD transfer is at the cinematic 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

The decision to shoot in 16mm was intentional. The effect is as you would imagine. Ther picture is grainy and raw and perfectly suits the subject matter. This is a life in the raw.

Besides the grain the print is pretty good. The picture lacks sharpness and the colours are a little washed out.

In short, the film is a realistic, competent transfer of a low budget flick.

There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Wendy and Lucy carries a Dolby Digital 2.0 English soundtrack running at 224 Kb/s. This is perfectly adequate for the film. The sound design is quite sensitive as the film has long sequences without dialogue. Each little noise, particularly the lonesome sound of the boxcars, has its relevance.

The music is minimal in the film. That which exists is written by Will Oldham, better known as Bonny Prince Billie, who also has a small role in the film. Oldham was the lead in a previous Reichardt film Old Joy . For the unaquainted Oldham's music is kind of folky/punky and suits the film to a tee. It is a moving ethereal accompaniment to the film.

The actors appear to be in audio sync. There are no technical problems with the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The only extra is the theatrical trailer. This is a bit of a disappointment. There are some interviews on the internet for those interested in the film but a commentary track with Reichardt and Williams would have been interesting.

Theatrical Trailer

A short trailer for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Wendy and Lucy has been released in Region 1 with a similar lack of relevant extras. There are some other short films included on the Region 1 set, apparently selected by Reichardt.

Summary

    Films about the dispossessed are always interesting but Wendy and Lucy has some particular relevance in these global meltdown times. Is it every man for himself or do we have a duty to extend a hand to those in need, even when they aren't really asking for help. Wendy and Lucy is particularly poignant and will appeal to those who like their drama honest and real.

The transfer and sound are fine but an extra or two would have been nice.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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