By Mark Fields
The director and co-writer of Showing Up, Kelly Reichardt, has made her cinema career with quiet, almost miniature stories that explore lives that wouldn’t ordinarily be on the screen: First Cow, Meek’s Cutoff, and my favorite, Wendy and Lucy. These films — acutely observed slices of daily life — are admittedly an acquired taste (I enjoyed the film, my three guests were unimpressed). Her new feature, the latest of many collaborations with actress Michelle Williams, depicts a week in the life of aspiring sculptor Lizzy and her Portland community of fellow artists, friends, and family. Lizzy is preparing for a new exhibition of her art (small scale renderings of women), and finds no end of distractions tearing her away from the work. Like other Reichardt films, Showing Up starts with little fanfare and just ends (rather than comes to any solid conclusion), but in between are wonderful moments of human interaction more real and heartfelt than your standard summer blockbuster. Williams, always a reliably captivating actor, well captures Lizzy’s insecurities and frustrations. She is ably supported by a cast that includes Hong Chau, Andre Benjamin, Maryann Plunkett, and Judd Hirsch. This movie is not for everybody; it lacks any stunning effects, otherworldly landscapes, or caped heroics. But if one can find resonance in a subtle exploration of humanity, Showing Up could be a modest revelation.