Having previously chronicled the subtle disintegration of a friendship in 2006’s Old Joy, director Kelly Reichardt set out to explore life at the fringes of society in Wendy and Lucy. The shattering independent drama stars Michelle Williams as Wendy, a poverty-stricken loner travelling from her Indiana hometown to Alaska with hopes of landing work at a fishing cannery there. After her car breaks down in Oregon and her beloved dog–and only friend–Lucy goes missing, she embarks on a desperate search to find her pet as her world slowly collapses around her. In a tour-de-force performance, Williams conveys emotions ranging from anger (including a memorable parking lot run-in with the overzealous supermarket clerk who set her crisis in motion) to stark fear (exlemplified by her encounter with a drifter in the woods). Owing a debt to Italian neorealist films, Wendy and Lucy is more than just a tale of a girl and her dog. It is an examination of the human condition that also serves as a timely commentary on how the economic downturn impacts the most ordinary of people.