Tuesday, 1 November 2016

REVIEW - CERTAIN WOMEN (KELLY REICHARDT)


A quintessential, unifying statement on women in the West, written by Maile Meloy, adapted by Kelly Reichardt, seen by us. Indeed, Certain Women sees its own women as society, and the culture of filmmaking from which it has slyly sprung, does not - existing for their own sake and by their own terms, to whatever extent possible. Inconsequential it may seem, but this is, in fact, a work of quiet significance, a gentle but nonetheless stringent insistence on the validity of this particular American existence. The singularity of Reichardt's purview presents its women as doggedly active figures, each imbued with independent agency of thought even as their agency of action is casually chipped away - incisive performances from the cast further develop this notion that a woman is only as she defines herself, not as a biased society regards her. Yet Certain Women avoids its puff-piece potential with a stark, challenging strain of ambiguity and apparent contradiction, subtly knocking back our perceptions of its protagonists whilst refusing to condemn the character of any of its male supporting parts; Reichardt's style of directing and editing is correspondingly enigmatic, courting commerciality as much as artsy obscurity. Thus she evades thematic and stylistic simplism, and though this may be a tactic that's somewhat alienating and uncomfortable upon viewing, the way in which it permutates one's impressions of the film and its meanings over time is very smart and very satisfying.