“Showing Up”


Metacritic (2/10), Letterboxd (1/5), Imdb.com (2/10), TMDB.com (1/5)

When I come across a film that’s the cinematic equivalent of witnessing the emperor’s nakedness, I feel compelled to shout it from the rooftops, something I would readily do with regard to this latest comedy-drama from director Kelly Reichardt. This plodding, meandering, insular, minimalist, frequently inscrutable offering tells the “story” (if it can even be called that) of a Portland ceramic sculpture artist (Michelle Williams) struggling to create her works for an upcoming gallery show when faced with the distracting burdens of mundane domestic crises and incendiary but largely unexplained family issues. However, little happens here, and the narrative is more of a showcase for the movie’s artwork than a vehicle with a definable plot, a problem further enhanced by a lack of any meaningful back story and solid character development (I guess that what they mean by “nuanced”). Indeed, one can tell when a release like this is truly in trouble when its most interesting and best defined characters are a housecat and an injured pigeon. The picture’s feeble attempts at humor nearly always fall flat, too, most of which are drier than dust (there’s subtle and then there’s inconsequential). It really troubles me when I see a seriously undercooked production like this undeservedly becoming widely acclaimed with over-inflated accolades. I’ve found this also to be the case with many of this filmmaker’s other works, but “Showing Up” represents a new low in her filmography. Not even the award-winning ensemble cast, with the likes of Williams, Hong Chau, Judd Hirsch, Amanda Plummer and Maryann Plunkett – the picture’s only noteworthy asset – can save this one from its own inherent failings. Experimental cinema is one thing, but unfocused, pointless, stream of consciousness filmmaking is something else entirely.