In-between moments

Kristen Stewart and Kelly Reichardt on Certain Women.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Kristen Stewart on Beth in Kelly Reichardt's Certain Women:
Kristen Stewart on Beth in Kelly Reichardt's Certain Women: "She's so distracted and self-absorbed" Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

At the New York Film Festival press conference for Certain Women with director Kelly Reichardt, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern and Lily Gladstone (Arnaud Desplechin's Jimmy P: Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian), moderated by festival director Kent Jones, Kelly commented that she cast Kristen because she had seen her in the uncut footage of Still Alice, directed by her friends Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.

Kelly Reichardt, Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern
Kelly Reichardt, Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Kristen Stewart also stars in Olivier Assayas's phantasmagoricaly formidable Personal Shopper, with Lars Eidinger, and in Ang Lee's Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, starring Joe Alwyn with Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel and Steve Martin as a Special World Première Presentation.

Certain Women, based on Maile Meloy's short stories, is a film suffused in uncertainties. The pictures painted tend towards the in-between, moments that are memorable in a very private way. Three stories from Montana present a triptych of life lived in present day, rural America. It is the cursory gesture, a glance inwards, a seemingly throwaway sentence, the sound an animal makes, that stick with you.

Lawyer Laura Wells (Laura Dern) will return late to the office after a clandestine lunchtime rendezvous with her married, bearded, long-johns-wearing lover (James Le Gros). While getting dressed, she describes the color of her sweater as "like a peach." "It's called taupe," he informs her. The client Laura is about to meet, Fuller (Jared Harris, heartbreakingly disturbed) is desperate and will take extreme measures to be heard.

Kelly Reichardt [in jest]:
Kelly Reichardt [in jest]: "Kristen thought that's how everyone in Montana eats." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Michelle Williams (Kenneth's Lonergan's Manchester By The Sea) is central to part two as Gina Lewis, jogging, smoking, busy building a house with her husband (Le Gros) and her disinterested in the world beyond her phone daughter Guthrie (Sara Rodier). Gina's mind is set on getting a pile of sandstone from an old man (Rene Auberjonois) who says the bricks stem from "the old schoolhouse when the town was settled." A quail flies up in the air. Their call sounds like "How are you?" he says. And Gina knows the quail response - "I'm just fine."

Part three is about farmhand Jamie (Lily Gladstone) who takes good care of the horses and a corgi, compact and limber and as alive as any of the humans in this film aspire to be. She encounters a stranger from out of town, Beth (Kristen Stewart) who teaches a night class on education law at the local school. Beth is hungry and Jamie guides her to a diner. Beth has a quarter of a greasy burger and ice cream and complains about the long drive. Jamie looks at her. She does not place an order.

Kent Jones, Kelly Reichardt, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern and Lily Gladstone
Kent Jones, Kelly Reichardt, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern and Lily Gladstone Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

The nothingness that contains it all is Kelly Reichardt's domain. Her splendid actors make it pure cinema.

Anne-Katrin Titze: There are so many great gestures but there was one that startled me. And that was in the diner when you are wiping your mouth with the napkin still wrapped around the cutlery. That was terrific. I've never seen anyone do that. Where did that come from?

Kelly Reichardt: Yeah. It was quite startling.

Kristen Stewart: What? Actually somebody said that to me earlier today. Tell me about this choice? I have no idea what you are talking about. She has no time, you know. Like, I don't know, there's stuff on your face, you just get it off. Yeah. Go. Yeah. She's so distracted and self-absorbed. So unbelievably self-involved like there's just not a …

KR: She's busy.

KS: But why? What do you mean?

Kristen Stewart:
Kristen Stewart: "Like, I don't know, there's stuff on your face, you just get it off." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: What do I mean?

KS: Yeah.

AKT: Well, somebody who doesn't even take the time to unwrap the cutlery - that is, it is just so, so telling about a person.

KS: That's awesome.

AKT: And there is a knife inside, I suppose, too. So there is a lot in a napkin.

KR [in jest]: Kristen thought that's how everyone in Montana eats.

Certain Women final New York Film Festival screening: Tuesday, October 4 at 6:00pm - Alice Tully Hall - Expected to attend: Kelly Reichardt, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, and Lily Gladstone

Kristen Stewart will be honoured on Wednesday, October 5 in “An Evening with...” celebration at 6:00pm - Kaplan Penthouse, Rose Building.

Certain Women will screen at the BFI London Film Festival on October 9 at 2:30pm; October 12 at 6:00pm and October 13 at 6:15pm.

The 54th New York Film Festival runs until October 16.

Certain Women opens in the US on October 14.

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