Showing Up is a dreadfully slow film about an artist that reunites writer-director Kelly Reichardt with actress Michelle Williams.
I initially put off my review after watching the film in March. One was because it wasn’t coming out for a month so I didn’t feel the need to rush things. Little did I know that the depression triggered one day earlier would not be an easy one to kick. Let me just add that I opt for escapist entertainment when it comes to kicking a depression. It’s the same escapist entertainment that I was criticized for liking one day earlier when I learned people were talking about my Sight and Sound ballot. When dealing with depression, a slow film like Showing Up is even slower while watching. It’s never a good sign when I think about taking my phone with me into the restroom during a screening. The moment I do that is when a film has lost me. This one came dreadfully close.
Lizzy (Michelle Williams), a sculptor in Portland, is preparing to open a new show but life continually gets in the way. She discovers a bird in her apartment and throws it out the window. Next thing you know, her landlord/neighbor, Jo (Hong Chau), finds it and needs Lizzy to nurse it back to health. As far as landlords go, Jo is the worst landlord in the world. Never mind that she forces the bird onto Lizzy but it’s just wrong to put off fixing the water heater. Just when Lizzy thought she was out, they pull her back in! Anyway, Reichardt has us follow Lizzy’s drama for a week. She has to deal with her brother, Sean (John Magaro), who suffers from mental illness. And again, the 108-minute film runs dreadfully slow.
The film was originally going to be a biopic about Canadian artist Emily Carr. Carr quit painting as a result of becoming a landlord. Would a biopic about such a person make for a more entertaining film? Possibly but it’s hard to say without actually seeing THAT movie. What audiences end up getting from Reichardt is an art house film that is as art house as art house can be. Listen, I don’t mind watching art house movies but when they come with a super slow place, it makes watching them all the more brutal.
Not even a talented cast is enough to save Showing Up from its brutally slow place. Showing Up is not a film for everyone–it certainly wasn’t for me.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Kelly Reichardt
CAST: Michelle Williams, Hong Chau, Maryann Plunkett, John Magaro, Andre Benjami, James Le Gros, and Judd Hirsch
A24 released Showing Up in theaters on April 7, 2023. Grade: 2/5
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