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Cannes 08: “Wendy and Lucy.”

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05242008_wendyandlucy.jpgI’ve seen films about genocide at this year’s festival, I’ve seen films about corruption, about terrible crimes, about war and about murder, but nothing cut me to the quick like “Wendy and Lucy,” which is about a girl who loses her dog. The second third film from Kelly Reichardt, whose superb “Old Joy” was one of the few bright lights on the American indie landscape of the past years, is, like that last feature, deceptively simple and brief. Over the course of 80 minutes, Wendy (a very good Michelle Williams) drives into a shabby Oregon town with her dog, Lucy. Every penny is s precious, so she tries to shoplift some dog food, but she’s caught, and, per the store’s policy and the insistence of an over-zealous young employee, prosecuted. Getting back a few hours later, she finds that Lucy’s missing.

“Wendy and Lucy” is a microscopic tale of suspense about how, when you’ve got next to nothing, seemingly navigable setbacks like a car breaking down or a dog running away become insurmountable catastrophes. When Wendy runs into genial, hippie-ish vagrants by the railroad, one of them “Old Joy”‘s Will Oldham, their stories make her decision to head to Alaska to look for work seems like a good one, like freedom. But she stranded in town when her car won’t start, and while it’s in the shop she has no place to sleep, and she has no phone number to give the pound should Lucy turn up, and without an address she can’t get even a temporary job to sustain herself, which seems an impossibility in the economically depressed area anyway. The people around Wendy are mostly indifferent to her perilous descent into homelessness, with the exception of a security guard at the Walgreen’s by which she’s been staying, whose small acts of kindness and concern are heartrending.

Michelle Williams is in every scene of “Wendy and Lucy,” and ably carries that burden — with her dark pixie haircut and cut-offs, she looks frighteningly vulnerable, an indie urchin stuck in circumstances both dire and mundane, her open face registering every frustration, triumph and terror despite her efforts otherwise. Reichardt’s approach in the film is similar underplayed — by refusing to wring out easy sentiments from the script, which, like “Old Joy,” is co-written and based on a short story by Jonathan Raymond; her actors; or her style, which is elegant and unobtrusive, the only music Wendy’s own humming, she’s created something of incredible emotional genuineness that’s one of my favorites in the festival.

[Photo: “Wendy and Lucy,” Film Science/Glass Eye Pix, 2008]

+ “Wendy and Lucy” (

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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