While her last feature Night Moves seemed to be sadly overlooked, Kelly Reichardt is gearing up for quite a 2016. Along with her new drama Certain Women premiering at Sundance, Oscilloscope Laboratories helped bring about a restoration of her rarely seen debut River of Grass — about which, when we talked to her last year, her response was, “I can’t look at that movie” — and will premiere it at the festival ahead of a March re-release. With Sundance kicking off in just about a month, today brings updates on both films.
First up, above one can see the first image of Michelle Williams in her new drama, which also features the cast of Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, James Le Gros, Jared Harris, and Lily Gladstone. Clocking in at 107 minutes, Sundance also provides the official synopsis, which can be read below, followed by the new trailer and poster for the River of Grass restoration.
Certain Women drops us into a handful of intersecting lives across Montana. A lawyer (Laura Dern) tries to diffuse a hostage situation and calm her disgruntled client (Jared Harris), who feels slighted by a workers’ compensation settlement. A married couple (Michelle Williams and James Le Gros) breaks ground on a new home but exposes marital fissures when they try to persuade an elderly man to sell his stockpile of sandstone. A ranch hand (Lily Gladstone) forms an attachment to a young lawyer (Kristen Stewart), who inadvertently finds herself teaching a twice-weekly adult education class, four hours from her home.
Kelly Reichardt returns to the American West, by way of Maile Meloy’s short stories, but upends its traditional associations. Here, the rugged men of yesteryear struggle with age, injury, and indignation while the women imperfectly blaze trails. Reichardt’s unhurried, observational style resists judgment or sentimentality. The picturesque setting masks lives of quiet desperation and conflicting emotion. All three stories strain with longing, populated by flawed people wrestling with moral ambiguity and living between isolation and intimacy.
RIVER OF GRASS (1994), Kelly Reichardt’s darkly funny debut feature, brought the writer/director back to the setting of her adolescence, the suburban landscape of southern Florida, where she grew up with her detective father and narcotics agent mother. Shot on 16mm, the story follows the misadventures of disaffected house-wife “Cozy”, played by Lisa Bowman, and the aimless layabout “Lee”, played by up and comer Larry Fessenden, who also acted as a producer and the film’s editor. Described by Reichardt as “a road movie without the road, a love story without the love, and a crime story without the crime,” RIVER OF GRASS introduces viewers to a director already in command of her craft and defining her signature style.
River of Grass hits theaters in March after screening at Sundance and Certain Women has worldwide distribution through Sony Pictures.