The first third centers on Laura (Laura Dern), a lawyer dealing with a client (Jared Harris) who’s certain he should be compensated for a workplace accident that has left him physically and emotional altered. The second third focuses on Gina (Michelle Williams), a bread-winner wife and mother whose preoccupation with some rare sandstone that she wants to use in the construction of the family’s new home seems a metaphor for what might be missing from her personal life.
The final and most emotionally engaging third centers on a pair of young women who strike up an unlikely friendship: a nameless Native American horse rancher (Lily Gladstone) and Beth (Kristen Stewart), a law graduate with limited social skills.
Certain Women is shot matter-of-factly on location amid rural Montana’s no-frills small-town locations (including a drab law office, an ill-lit classroom and a typical ranch house adorned with an eternally blasé tan-based color palette), a production choice that no doubt aids in building the story’s low-key authenticity. The actors’ performances are stellar across the board. But the triptych approach mutes Certain Women’s overall impact, yielding a facinating character study of curiously little narrative thrust. (Opens Friday at Esquire Theatre) (R) Grade: B
Also Opening This Week:
The Handmaiden // Inferno // Harry & Snowman