Showing Up Review
Sometimes less is more, as filmmaker Kelly Reichardt has demonstrated quite well in her career. Her minimalist style of storytelling is calming, and oftentimes meditative. It can also be quite dry, depending on how invested you are in the narrative and characters she’s created. Showing Up stays true to Reichardt’s past filmography, but unfortunately doesn’t connect in the way some of her other films have.
If you’re able to form a bond with Showing Up’s main character, played by Michelle Williams, this film will likely strike a comforting and familiar chord - like a good friend you haven’t seen in a while, updating you on their life. Williams’ performance is quiet and grounded, but it’s ever so captivating because of how authentic it comes across. There are no big, scene stealing moments or gripping monologues, but instead a subtle conveyance of swirling internal emotions.
Of course, if you aren’t able to see yourself, or someone you know in this character, the movie doesn’t have much else going on to hold your attention. We follow Williams’ character over the course of a week or so, as she prepares for a gallery showing of her latest sculptures. Conflict is nearly non-existent apart from a few small spats between characters, and it all really comes down to watching this woman live a very plain life.
Despite my middling interest in the film’s story, i did find the movie to be beautifully shot and edited. As I mentioned, Reichardt’s style has a soothing effect, and that comes through beautifully here. The soft colours, gentle camera work and understated score amount to a film that feels very calming. While others may see it as boring (it certainly came close at times for me), there’s no denying Reichardt’s talent behind the lens.
Showing Up takes Kelly Reichardt’s minimalist filmmaking to new levels, and while it will likely test the patience of most viewers, there’s something beautiful to be said about its simplicity. Michelle Williams is excellent as always, in a more subdued performance than we’re used to from her. While I didn’t click with this film in the way I hoped to, I would still recommend watching it for yourself, especially if you’re a fan of Reichardt’s work.
Review by: Benjamin Garrett
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