The last shot in this quiet, brilliant film is an implicit antithesis to the entire drama that precedes it. It's a bird's eye view of the two central grad student artists walking off together, about to disappear into the industrialized cityscape. The bird - which we hear but don't see - is the pigeon that was cripped by Lizzy's cat and saved first by Jo, then by Lizzy.
Caring for the bird became a bone of contention between them, though not as serious as Jo's failure to provide her tenant with hot water. The women's recovery of civility, community, friendliness, represents the healing power of Nature over its traditional antithesis, Art.
As the capital A suggests, the Art here is the enclosed artificial world of an art school's grad program. Writer/director Kelly Reichardt brilliantly catches the character and style of contemporary art schools. In this community there is a pervasive ritual of mutual support, cliches of appreciation. When a ceramic work is spoiled by a burn, the tech claims he prefers imperfections. More interesting, you see. The school bubble is sustained.
The film also catches the Moment of art style and form. Macrame is back. The looms loom large again. The students' openings anticipate the empty chat, posturing and cheese of The Real Art World. Their work is good enough but as typical as their low prospects for successful art careers. Their grad show opening may prove as good as they ever get.
The best art is heroine Lizzy's ceramic figures, which out of the kiln freeze the angst and frustration we see in her life. There she primarily suffers by being the only responsible character around. For Jo, seeking out the perfect tire for a tree swing is more important then getting her tenant hot water. Aren't artists supposed to be more sensitive, more responsible, than the cliche landlord?
And as several characters remark, why would anyone take a pigeon to a vet? In life they are foul pests. In art they are Nature, the superior force which humanity requires we serve even through Art.
Lizzy's parents have in effect abandoned their children, especially Lizzy's mentally afflicted brother. Her father is a retired potter who still spins fictional life successes and is exploited by a couple who pause their travels to live off him. They are the parasitic fossils of '60s Bohemianism. They come to the show for the wine and cheese.
When Lizzy's brother digs a pit in his back yard - Earth Art to express the mouths of Nature we don't listen to - his work is no more futile than the ostensibly advanced work of the students. Indeed his Outsider instinctive fervour emerges valourized when he takes the initiative of picking up the recovered pigeon and releasing it.
As Lizzy's exhibition opening proceeds we wonder which disaster will ruin her work. The gambolling children? The wild brother enraged he must control his cheese-eating? The father bumbling along? The insensitive Jo? No, all is saved when we remember the reality that our creativity can only emulate and serve. Nature wins out.
The title is of course as rich as the climactic closing shot. Showing up is what we do when we put up a show. But it's also our quintessential responsibility as artists and as human beings. Showing up, being responsible, saving what life we can.
Comedy / Drama
Comedy / Drama
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A sculptor preparing to open a new show tries to work amidst the daily dramas of family and friends.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
Tech specs720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1 hr 47 min
P/S 9 / 51