A few weeks ago I ranted about an independent film called Happy-Go-Lucky, by British director Mike Leigh. It was about a perpetual optimist, or in my opinion, really obnoxious woman. I did not give it a star rating because I was unable to sit through the whole movie.
Still, indie films can be quite terrific, so even though I suspected the film Wendy and Lucy might be similar in pacing to Happy-Go-Lucky, I gave it a whirl anyway.
Wendy & Lucy is in fact a slow-paced movie. Not a whole lot happens during its brief, 80 minute running time. But what happens is memorable and sticky and leaves a mark.
While similar in pacing, these two films could not be more dissimilar in tone. Wendy and Lucy is a very quiet film, with the underlying rhythm of the trains as its soundtrack. Wendy is down on her luck, trying to get to Alaska where she hears there is work. She has nothing to be happy about, except her lovely dog Lucy.
Normally I am quite the “joy junkie” and a feel-good film, as Happy-Go-Lucky is described, would be my kind of flick. But as I have said many times before, from science fiction to comedy to drama, what matters to me most is the story. And I have to hand it to Wendy and Lucy for weaving a memorable tale.
I could describe all that happens in this film in a few paragraphs. And that means a couple of things to me. It means that the pacing is a bit too slow at times. It also means that I remember most everything about the film, and that’s remarkable for me. Think of how many films you know you’ve seen but can’t remember more than one or two details. Wendy and Lucy is vivid and clingy and impressionable in its simplicity.
So this film for me is very much the opposite of Happy-Go-Lucky. I wanted to like Happy Go Lucky but couldn’t even sit through it. After sitting all through Wendy and Lucy, I didn’t want to like it but I did. It’s not flawless, and it’s certainly not happy, but I can still easily recommend it.