April 17, 2023

SCREEN | Michelle Williams Sculpts A Comedy – 'Showing Up'

"Go die somewhere else."
Michelle Williams Kelly Reichardt | Showing Up A24
A24 / Sphere Films
Celebrated filmmaker Kelly Reichardt reteams with frequent collaborator Michelle Williams (in their fourth film together) for a quietly moving, minimalist indie comedy set in the art world. Showing Up follows Williams' understated Lizzy, a frustrated sculptor working as an arts administrator at the now-closed Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAD), trying to make art while constantly being interrupted by life's mundane circumstances.

Co-starring Hong Chau as Lizzy's more well-adjusted and celebrated installation artist (also landlord and neighbour), Reichardt shapes the film through the different artists' personalities reflected in their chosen mediums. Chau's Jo is far less frustrated and more easygoing, as reflected in her more elaborate work. Lizzy, much more tortured, sticks to similar-looking female ceramic figures made of clay.

Author Jon Raymond and Reichardt (in their seventh collaboration) carefully detail their script with small character moments encapsulated in objects, settings, procedures, and animals. Its naturalism adds to the casual sense of artistry. This film offers a far less dire tone than their usual fare but is still filled with personal anxieties expressed through Williams' subtle mannerisms.

As its title would suggest, Showing Up is all about doing the thing and moreso the simple act of creating art in the face of obstacles and the uncertainty of life's other plans. Williams strips herself down for a creatively satisfying performance where she explores the internal feelings of an unremarkably everyday artist. Reichardt makes the case for the satisfaction of making art rather than the final product or ultimate destination.

Showing Up screens at the VIFF Centre and Rio Theatre.

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / Vox

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