Williams shines once again as an artist who has enough on her canvas.
Writer/director Kelly Reichardt reunites with Michelle Williams for the third time (“Wendy and Lucy” and “Certain Women”) for “Showing Up,” a comedy-drama that’s in love with art and the artists, but also has sentimental and low key value in their personalities. It starts off pretty slow, takes its time to introduce us to the main heroine, and then it goes into her life.
Williams is Lizzy, a sculptor and art student in Portland, Oregon, who is trying to so hard to work on an exhibition for her clay figures of women, while dealing with a lack of hot water problem at her rental place, and other situations that pop up in her life. She just wants to get her work done, and she feels her problems are roadblocks. But the movie never takes the irritable approach, but rather a subtle tone.
Here are the other things going on in her life at the moment.
Her parents are divorced. She works for her mother Jean (Maryann Plunkett), and she gets irritated by the whimsical behaviors of her father Bill (Judd Hirsch), who is also a retired artist.
Her landlord and fellow student Jo (Hong Chau) has so much optimism, that she cares for a pigeon Lizzy’s cat injured. And she’s been so busy with her projects, that she hasn’t been able to work on Lizzy’s shower heater. Eventually, she would argue with Jo about when she can finally take a shower in her rental place. I know I would argue with her if I was in her shoes.
Her younger brother Sean (John Magaro) is a former artist, who has developed mental problems. Their mother still considers him a genius by their mother, but Lizzy doesn’t really think so. In fact, she can’t understand his recent activities. That is if they are activities.
And she has some support from the nice kiln operator Eric (Andre “3000” Benjamin), who appreciates her artwork. I like how this singer/actor returns to acting every now and then. In recent memory, he was entertaining in “Jimi: All Is By My Side” and “High Life,” and in “Showing Up,” he has the consistency and timing as Eric.
In her first film since “First Cow,” Reichardt and her frequent co-worker Jon Raymond draw “Showing Up” with patience and a somber atmosphere that has interesting characters portrayed very well, a few funny moments (most of them regarding the pigeon), and some impressive artwork. But is also cares for Lizzy and what she has to deal with, and we’re convinced of that by Williams’ honest performance. And she knows how to use her dialogue and dispositions, especially when she tries to balance her life and work.
The artwork is impressive, because they have realism and patience, and even the end credits are in love with projects. And there is never a moment when Lizzy’s clay figures have to be damaged, which probably would have been a cliche. I guess the movie doesn’t want her to be more frazzled than she already is with balancing her jobs.
I’m sorry if I didn’t review this movie sooner, but I had other things going on, and like Lizzy, it’s not always easy keeping things in balance. But somehow, I manage to get through, and is able to see “Showing Up” for what it is: a consistently wise and charming film about art and their artists. Forget all the bizarre fantasies; just see it as a representation of ordinary life.
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