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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Showing Up' Review: Michelle Williams Portrays A Procrastinating Artist In Kelly Reichardt Dramedy

Michelle Williams telling off her cute cat

She doesn't want to be pigeonholed, she wants to fly free as a pigeon and create beautiful art that way. Director-editor Kelly Reichardt returns once again to Oregon after 2020's wonderful 'First Cow' with Showing Up, a slow-moving dramedy co-written by Reichardt with Jonathan Raymond. Lizzy (Michelle Williams) is a sculptor balancing her artistic endeavours with a steady office job at an Oregonian art college. Sculpting women in abstract poses and getting ready for a gallery show to showcase them, Lizzy ends up taking care of a hurt pigeon with her fellow artist and landlord Jo (Hong Chau) whom she is trying to get to fix the apartment's hot water shortage. Lizzy's procrastinations also allow us to meet her offbeat dad Bill (Judd Hirsch), mom Joan (Maryann Plunkett) and troubled brother Sean (John Magaro).

Hopefully it doesn't come as a shock to anyone that Showing Up takes the slow burn route because there's some genuine depth and reflection to be found when Lizzy's different threads come together at the end of the film. It's a film that examines artistic process, procrastinating to avoid emotions that one puts into their art and seeing yourself and your life in the final form of your creation. Most of it comes to life beautifully thanks to Williams' performance as she quietly disappears and re-emerges constantly as a different shade of Lizzy, inviting you to a story with no flashing lights, artificial drama or a specific goal. She can be funny in a very low-key manner when that's expected of her while Chau is able to reflect that back in their shared scenes which feel real and comfortable in terms of their characters' familiarity.

However, in some ways the film is a small regression for Reichardt as it never quite fully blossoms into something that moves, inspires or impresses you markedly like great art does when done right. A D-story about Sean never fits in with Lizzy's story and Magaro as a performer feels rather out of place in this movie in terms of how he decides to portray him. Cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt's movement with some bizarre angles and Ethan Rose's score also rarely compliment each other which then makes the world around Lizzy feel slightly too picturesque to make an impact when Reichardt goes for a small crescendo in the end. But maybe just showing up for it in the first place was all that was required of me or you; I did that at least.

Smileys: Michelle Williams

Frowneys: Nothing too distracting

She wants to shower, not to be showered with praise.


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