Yesterday I watched a terrific little movie called Wendy and Lucy. It stars Michelle Williams as a struggling young woman on her way to Alaska for the promise of good money working in the fish canneries. While passing through Oregon, she loses her dog Lucy, and her beat up old car finally breaks down. She only had enough money to pay for food and travel for her and Lucy, and just barely enough to cover that. She's befriended by a kind old security guard, who directs her around town, and who in a heartbreaking scene does what little he can to help the young woman be on her way. It's a wonderfully low key movie, very simple, but powerful, and has great performances from all of its actors. But Michelle Williams is in every scene, and never hits a false note with her performance, which I think was one of the handful of best performances by an actor last year. Williams is a beautiful young woman, and has some of the most expressive eyes of any actor working right now, but she plays down her looks in Wendy and Lucy by not wearing any make-up whatsoever. Still, she's so interesting to watch that I couldn't help but not take my eyes off of her.
Like many people, I first saw Williams on the TV show Dawson's Creek (I was a young teenager at the time, of course I watched it), where she was overshadowed by her co-star Katie Holmes. Holmes was the one who broke out into major stardom from the show, and the one who got the more desirable roles in movies. But Williams was able to show her skills in smaller movies like the underrated comedy Dick, and the terrific indie movie The Station Agent. It was her performance in The Station Agent that brought her to the attention of the great Ang Lee, who cast her in her breakout role opposite Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain. She was deservedly nominated for an Oscar for her incredible performance, which I think was the best in that movie. That put her in a position to take roles in projects like the Dylan biopic I'm Not There, Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York, and Martin Scorsese's upcoming thriller Shutter Island. I hope she will continue on her climb up the ranks of great actresses, because I'd love to see what else she is capable of giving us.