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Sep 05 2016

Yes No Maybe So: Certain Women

byLaurence Barber

Premiering at Sundance toa wave of critical acclaim,Certain Womenwas laterpicked up by IFCfor distribution and they've recently released the first trailer. Written and directed by Kelly Reichardt,whose patient portraits of the American northwest tend to inspire either passionate love or cool indifference,it stars acting goddesses Laura Dern,Michelle Williams and newly-minted demi-goddess Kristen Stewart.Reichardt's last film,Night Moves,was more on the propulsive side butCertain Womenscales things back,adapting three stories from Maile Meloy's collectionBoth Ways Is the Only Way I Want It.

Having seenCertain Womenback in June at the Sydney Film Festival,I can tell you that this one of those movies concocted in a laboratory just for your enjoyment.Collating and cross-charting the experiences of four women under different kinds of duress,the film is impressively performed and crafted.On the awards side though it isn't going to gain much traction outside of the Independent Spirit Awards.It's not that it's difficult,but it definitely asks you to fall into its river and let the current take you.

Le's break down the trailer after the jump...


Guess we'll just start at the beginning.

  • KRISTEN STEWART!(Honourable mention to her capacity to rock knitwear.)
  • And perhaps,most impressively,newcomer Lily Gladstone,who manages to outperform all three,though she is,admittedly,given the most emotionally immediate material.If I ran the world,she'd be a lock for Supporting Actress.
  • Certain Womenco-stars James Le Gros,Jared Harris and Rene Auberjonois,which is a good batch of character actors to round this out.
  • The cinematography here shows loving views of pastoral and mountain landscapes as shot by Christopher Blauvelt,who also shotMeek's Cutoff,Night Movesand the underratedThe Disappearance of Eleanor Rigbyas well as completingThe Bling Ringafter mentor Harris Savides' death.
  • The gorgeous melancholic tone.It's immediately reminiscent of Reichardt's past work,but also of the Nicole Holofcener/Mike White school of delicate but fiercely intelligent introspection.


I wonder how much more might be buried here?

  • It's awfully hard to find anything that screams 'no' here,but the trailer maybe reads as too vague about the characters and what their stories are.

Maybe So

It's so lovely to think that if I were a man people would listen and say,"Okay."It would be so restful.

  • Is this trailer playing too hard for an audience it knows it can get rather than trying to cast a wider net of interest?It stops right when you start to feel like you're getting a sense for the characters.I could see this alienating some people.
  • Everyone I've talked to,whether they lovedCertain Womenor not,tends to have a different favourite strand of the story.But consensus says that Michelle Williams' is the most obtuse,even though I thought it a necessary contrast to the other two.This trailer doesn't - and maybe can't - really hint at what makes that section of the story so compelling.Hopefully audiences will be enticed to find out.

Even having seen the film,I'm still a massiveYESfor this in the sense that I'm utterly desperate to see it again.It hits cinemas in the US beginning October 14th.Will you have a ticket opening day?

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Reader Comments (9)

Since you've seen it,you should have just labeled this a Yes-No-Maybe So Review!

My Yes,No and Maybe so based off of the trailer:

YES - Dern and Williams ARE goddesses.I also like Stewart quite a bit.

MAYBE SO - I have a hard time figuring out what exactly this film is about,if anything.This can be troubling.

NO -
a) I almost always dislike films with separate only marginally connected story-lines.I want everything to be connected and I want these great actresses to play against each-other please;otherwise it is kind of a waste putting them all in the same film.

b) I tend not to enjoy those low energy depressing indie films where nothing much happens.This trailer doesn't seem like it is a very dramatic film.Nor a horror film,Nor a romantic film.Nor an action film.Nor a great family drama with lots of angst (see trailers for You Can Count on Me or Manchester By The Sea)....etc.

I'm definitely a Strong No based on the trailer but I may turn around if the final reviews (once all critics see it) shout brilliant.

September 5,2016 | Unregistered CommenterWhatWhatinThe


September 5,2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Maybe so I am not a Williams fan ...Dern..Yes I also look forward to newcomer Gladstone

Subject matter seems elusive at this point.

September 5,2016 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Where's the Oscar talk?

September 5,2016 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

Is this a commercial for women who need to be on antidepressants?Zzzz

September 5,2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Yavor,not gonna happen.Far too quiet for Oscar.It's very good though,so that's even better

September 6,2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I get to see this soon and with Kelly Reichardt giving a Q&A so I'm stoked!

September 6,2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

I'm at the point where Stewart is an automatic "yes"for me.

September 6,2016 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

@Suzanne - Seriously.Stewart has this,Personal Shopper and the new Ang Lee coming out just this year.She's unstoppable.

September 6,2016 | Registered CommenterLaurence Barber

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