Films come in all shapes and sizes. Some appeal to general audiences and others to more of a niche crowd. That would be where Kelly Reichardt’s newest Showing Up would align. A story that looks inside the lives of a group of artists in Portland. Sculptor Lizzy (Michelle Williams) is a week away from opening her new art show and will have to balance her creative process with the everyday troubles and distractions of life.
So essentially this movie feels like a snapshot of people’s lives, with no real beginning, middle, or end. Kelly Reichardt has a tradition of what the industry calls minimalist filmmaking and Showing Up feels no different since these characters seem to be in the exact sample place at the end of the film that they were at the beginning.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is an audience for this film. Artists will maybe appreciate this look at an unassumingly stressful week and how it relates to the creative process, and how those everyday people in our lives can be a hindrance to that process. While others can be an inspiration. Williams does deliver an interesting performance. I was frequently curious about her backdrop and what her career history was. Is she a successful artist? Or is she an up-and-comer with everything in her career banking on this upcoming show open? These were questions I asked myself that were for the most part not answered during the progression of this minimalist story.
There are a few exceptions. You can make small assumptions based on visual cues. No one is really living a wealthy life, but in turn, is that even the goal for these artists. So many questions rolled through my mind but instead we get Lizzy caring for a wounded pigeon that her mean cat attacked. She routinely complains to Jo (Hong Chau), her old classmate and now landlord, about the broken hot water heater. And she spends time working with her mother. Again, everyday life…mundane and uneventful much like Showing Up was.
The humor if you could call it that was either so ‘inside baseball’ or just plain dry that it never landed with me. There feels like an interesting story here and with the Portland art scene as the backdrop there was potential for Williams to deliver a captivating look at the subculture. But with every shot feeling like it lasted thirty-seconds longer than needed and a lifeless collection of characters there isn’t much to invest in and Showing Up will inevitably be a bit of an emotionless drag.
Cast: Michelle Williams, Hong Chau, Maryann Plunkett, John Magaro, Andre Benjamin, James Le Gos, Judd Hirsch, Lauren Lakis Director: Kelly Reichardt Writers: Kelly Reichardt, Jon Raymond Distributor: A24 Running Time: 108 minutes Rating: R (Brief Graphic Nudity) Year: 2022 (Cannes) 2023 (Wide)
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2023 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.