Kelly Reichardt directed this movie and co-scripted it with Jon Raymond based on Raymond's short story 'Train Choir'. Reichardt says the seeds for the film came after Katrina, when there was talk of why people let their lives get precarious. She was also inspired by neo-realist German and Italian movies, as they seemed to be appropriate for dealing with life in contemporary America.
Michelle Williams plays Wendy, a young woman caught in the poverty of post-industrial Indiana who decides to leave the Midwest for a perceived better life in Alaska. She takes her beloved dog Lucy with her in her beat-up auto, sleeping in it on the way to save her precious little money, and gets as far as Portland, Oregon, where her car breaks down and she's plunged into a hopeless situation.
She's steals dog food from a supermarket, gets arrested by the police and returns to find Lucy has disappeared. She gets help using the cell phone of a sympathetic security guard (whose casual remark about mill closure is perhaps the only overt social comment in the whole 80 minutes) to call the dog pound, and puts up photocopies of Lucy, asking for assistance in finding her. But when she does find her in a new home she's already realized, there being no chance of repairing the car short of stumping up the few thousand dollars that she doesn't have, that she can't afford to look after her dog and must move on to Alaska alone.
Wendy and Lucy quietly dominate this deeply moving film and Will Oldham (or Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) – who also stars in Reichardt's Old Joy (2006) – provides the music.
WENDY AND LUCY Q&A: Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams