Icy Roads Of Life
Stars: Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams Lily Gladstone, James LeGros, Jared Harris, Rene’ Auberjonis and Sara Rodier
Director/Scriptwriter: Kelly Reichardt. Script adapted from “Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It” by Maile Meloy
Composer: Jeff Grace
Cinematographer: Christopher Blauvelt
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 107 Minutes
“Certain Women” has three stories in one film and set in early winter in a small town in Montana. Laura Dern stars as Laura, an attorney with a troublesome client (Jared Harris). Gina (Michelle Williams) is building her dream house and has a sassy daughter (Sara Rodier). Beth (Kristen Stewart) is a lawyer who travels four hours to teach a law class in order to have money to pay student loans. A lonely woman, Jamie (Lily Gladstone) attends her class, driving an old pick-up truck. The women involved don't have the happiest of lives. Laura’s client is driving her to distraction, plus he may have a crush on her. Gina’s daughter is in the leave-me-alone teen stage and her husband (James La Gros) usually sides with her. Gina, also, has a controlling personality. Beth is the first in her family to graduate from college and try to better herself, while Jamie is the opposite in that any job, even taking care of horses in the wintertime, is satisfactory. Love is something that doesn't mean that much in their lives. Facial expression and body language in these stories are as important as dialogue, and the actresses do very well here. Laura has a hesitant walk, while Gina is commanding, Beth is hurried and Jamie is stoic.
The film begins with Laura meeting with a client who is suing a company he has already received a settlement from. That he should not have taken that settlement doesn't occur to him, instead, he pesters everyone to help him, even if that means getting involved with the police. Gina and her husband are building the “perfect house” and want native stone for a fence. When they find it, the stone belongs to an elderly farmer who finally agrees to part with it---for free. Jamie works alone caring for horses on a ranch, occasionally going to the nearest town. She accidentally meets Beth, who is teaching a law class. Jamie sits in, week after week, slowly having feelings for Beth. When Jamie rides a horse to town to show Beth, she thinks this will cement the friendship.
The background of small town life in northern Montana is well photographed, from watching the horses in a pasture to the skyline to the change of lights from a small town to a big city. The camera rests on actor’s faces and you can see frustration, longing, sadness and triumph as the characters go about their lives. When Laura has to don a protective vest when entering a hostage situation, it finally shows on her face that her life is in danger. Gina’s triumphant look as she and her husband drive away with a load of native stone for free, is that she won the transaction. Beth’s what-am-I-doing-here look as she tries to teach her class is one of tiredness, while Jamie’s look at Beth is of someone who really needs a friend.
“Certain Women” concentrates on women. The men in their lives let them down. Whether it is as a client who doesn't follow protocol, or the husband who sides with the daughter, the boss who assigns a lawyer to drive four hours to teach a class, or men who don't notice another person in the room. What is the film saying? If you are a woman and want something you have to do it yourself. Grab on to the brass ring and hold on for all of your might.
The stories do cross paths in a minuscule moment and you have to be quick to see it. Not only is the scenery gorgeous, but so is the horse barn the horses live in. Polished wood doors on the stalls and it looks like something a thoroughbred in Kentucky would have. Even the farm dog is well fed.
Copyright 2016 Marie Asner