Kelly Reichardt’s Cer­tain Women finds the in­die au­teur still do­ing things her own way


IF YOU WANT to work with di­rec­tor Kelly Reichardt — and plenty of ac­tors do — a role in a re­cent punk-rock biopic prob­a­bly wouldn’t hurt. “I’ve worked with three of the band mem­bers in

The Ru­n­aways,” she laughs of re­cent col­lab­o­ra­tions with Kris­ten Ste­wart in her lat­est, Cer­tain Women, and Dakota Fan­ning and Alia Shawkat in Night

Moves. With a rep as an ac­tor’s di­rec­tor nur­tured over two decades of qui­etly un­com­pro­mis­ing work, A-lis­ters now queue up to work with her.

For Cer­tain Women, a Mon­tana-set tableau of work­ing women judged Best Film at 2016’s BFI Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val, she’s added non­run­aways Laura Dern and her Meek’s Cut­off lead Michelle Wil­liams, as well as new­comer Lily Glad­stone, who de­liv­ers a stand­out per­for­mance. Em­broi­dered with mo­ments of con­nec­tion, it’s a slow-burner with the feel of a fuzzy, lo-fi Robert Altman. Yet, it’s the kind of film only Reichardt could make — and, you sense, the only kind she’d want to. Cre­at­ing chem­istry is key. “There’s a lot that can hap­pen be­tween the lines,” she says of her ethos. “Ac­tors are into in­ves­ti­gat­ing that.”

Her leads em­braced the re­laxed ap­proach. “You’ve got to have a plan, but you’ve [also] got to be open to the gift of what­ever’s com­ing,” says Reichardt. “Di­rect­ing is not some­thing you can mas­ter in my ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause you’re deal­ing with a group of peo­ple and it’s a live thing,” she muses on the spe­cial alchemy of a film set. “Gus Van Sant says that if you shoot a scene on Tues­day morn­ing, it’d be dif­fer­ent to the same scene shot with the same cast and crew af­ter lunch on Tues­day,” she says. “I think that’s true.”

Not ev­ery part of the process has stayed the same since her de­but, 1994’s River Of Grass. “I’d walk into meet­ings where peo­ple would say, ‘Well, you’ve got a fe­male di­rec­tor, a fe­male pro­ducer and a fe­male lead. That’s three strikes against you.’” Things have changed a lit­tle since then. “They don’t say those things out loud any­more,” she notes wryly. Her next project, an adap­ta­tion of Pa­trick dewitt’s Un­der­ma­jor­domo Mi­nor, will of­fer a change of genre — it’s a juicy mur­der-mys­tery with shades of The Princess Bride. Some­how, you know it’ll still be un­mis­tak­ably a Kelly Reichardt film.

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