Michelle Williams in a scene from “Showing Up.” Filmscience

We learned today that Kelly Reichardt, the writer and director of this film, “grew up in a family of police officers.”

I can’t think of an another writer or directer who comes from such a family.

I come from a similar family, and I suspect, based on my experience, that Reichardt may have been adopted, and someone should find out who her real parents were, maybe Joan Didion and Don DeLillo?

Michelle Williams (“The Fabelmans”) is here, as Lizzy, and is as lovely, wistful and talented as I last saw her in “Manchester By the Sea,” 2016.

Here she plays a colorless, boring ceramic sculptor who whispers her lines, maintains one expression, and constantly complains about not being able to take a bath through the entire film. She does change clothes a lot, and looks, it seems to me, like she smells fine.

Jo (Hong Chau), usually a splendid actor (certainly in “The Whale”) is her neighbor and landlord. Jo is mostly nasty and distracted, refusing to have the broken boiler fixed. Jo seems to be a weaver of big colorful strings.


Both are part of an art colony somewhere in what looks like Venice, California, full of very quiet and dedicated artists (so it’s not Venice) who don’t appear to party much. In fact, as we move among them, an hour passes before we’re even sure they know one another.

I’m not familiar with writer-director Reichardt’s work, but for “First Cow” which I keep missing.

Maryann Plunkett (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”) walks through as Lizzy’s divorced mom, without much to do.

John Magaro (“The Big Short” 2015) is Lizzy’s manic depressive brother, who appears two weeks short of suicide and is last seen digging a big hole in his backyard. I suspect he’s capable of better stuff.

Reichardt is known for her minimalist films closely associated with “slow cinema” many of which deal with working class characters in small, rural communities.

I’m not familiar with “slow cinema,” but “Showing Up” certainly qualifies.


Reichardt has excellent credits and many fans, but after this outing, I’m not one of them.

A happy note is the appearance of the always very good Judd Hirsch, who plays Lizzy’s father and has about eight lines at the very end. I suspect he appeared as a favor to Reichardt.

“Showing Up” opens at the Maine Film Center in Waterville on May 5.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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