A director of compassionate, deeply human portraiture, typically of decent people navigating the currents of their respective worlds, director Kelly Reichardt manages to ratchet up the raw emotion—and without betraying the placidity of her particular aesthetic—in Certain Women, a film that moves through three barely-connected narratives and never surrenders to the verbosity or manipulative tics of similar mosaic works. Delicate and judgment-free, Reichardt’s latest thematically tethers its disparate parts to a powerfully affecting whole. Concerning itself with the pain we passively inflict on others, born most often from the privilege that power, money, and stability affords, Reichardt charts the connections and consequences of paths crossed and shared by the meek and the assured. Coaxing performances of great strength, and crafting stunning compositions without any semblance of ostentatiousness, the director’s dedicated naturalism allows her audience the freedom to feel as freely and deeply as she does about her characters and their lives. And while the film’s trio of codas feels extraneous and the strength of the film’s final third may slightly diminish the power of its precedent segments, the cumulative vision is one of supreme technical craft and boundless heart.
Published as part of Toronto International Film Festival 2016 | Dispatch 1.