Sometimes, the average joe doesn't do a lot with their lives that is radical, but, they still seek and receive excitement. This could be through predicaments: little, quaint, sudden, and unexpected. As such, "Certain Women" follows three women: a lawyer who has a disgruntled client who wouldn't listen to her advice, a homemaker with a disobedient daughter and a not-quite helpful husband trying to get her ideal home built, and a lonely rancher who falls for a teacher.
Some films, this one included, have a serene meditating nature to them, both in how they treat their subject as well as how they make the viewer feel. Their focus is entirely on the metaphorical landscape in which their plot is set. This then, becomes the focus of the viewer too. There is significant attention to the environment, its pace, the surrounding climate, and then, the people that occupy it. Within this setting, the film is content with watching its characters go about their daily business, doing what they would do on any non-descript day.
The sheer amount of screentime this film spends in this act of observing is akin to taking a long walk with these subjects, listening to them talk about their life. It is almost reminiscent of the age old technique of anthropology called Shadowing, where a curious learner follows a person of interest for days, to understand in fine detail, their life and its artifacts. By way of doing this, "Certain Women" drives home two beautiful points. One, that ordinary people make spectacular persons of interest, if you choose to look closely at them. Secondly, it punches up the argument that there is no better way to get to know a person than by spending time observing them, or merely being around them.
"Certain Women" is a very peculiar yet powerful film.
Streaming on Netflix now!
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