For one brief moment yesterday, Lily Gladstone‘s performance as a lovestruck ranch hand in Kelly Reichardt‘s Certain Women became a thing. Okay, it’s still a thing today. Perhaps her pop-through will gather a certain esteem between now and the announcement of Oscar nominations in January. Gladstone’s performance certainly registers in a distinct, low-key way, and it’s at least conceivable that Academy and guild members will take notice and vote for her. If, that is, they can get through Reichardt’s film, which has struck some (myself included) as a “watching paint dry” experience.
I didn’t need reminding but I’ll bet a lot of people had never given Gladstone’s turn a second thought until the Los Angeles Film Critics Association gave her their Best Supporting Actress award — a decision that seemed questionable if not eccentric given that it necessitated a blow-off of Michelle Williams‘ world-class emoting in Manchester By The Sea.
I certainly realized that Gladstone was a big stand-out element after watching Reichardt’s film at last January’s Sundance Film Festival. But her performance is more or less a one-note thing, expressive but largely non-verbal — “I’m a Belfry-residing stable hand who’s sad and isolated but deeply intoxicated with the idea of having Kristen Stewart as my lover, and I can’t wait for her next biweekly law class so I can sit there and ignore her teaching so I can just sink into her beauty.”
Gladstone freaks when Stewart’s character decides to stop commuting from Livingston to teach the Belfry class, and so she drives all the way to Livingston herself to tell Stewart that she’s got it bad for her — a confession that Stewart obviously doesn’t want to hear, much less deal with.
Wiki synopsis: “Jamie (Lily Gladstone) is a ranch hand living in isolation during the winter, tending to horses on a farm outside Belfry. Heading into town one night, she sees cars turning into the school and follows them. She learns she has stumbled onto a class on school law taught by a young lawyer, Beth Travis (Kristen Stewart). Jamie goes out to eat with Beth after class, and Beth explains that she lives in Livingston which is a four-hour drive away, so she must make the eight-hour round trip twice a week to make it back in time for her real job.
“Despite having no interest in education law, Jamie returns to class week after week. One week she brings one of her horses to class, and she and Beth ride the horse to the diner. The following week, she is stunned when she learns Beth has quit and a new teacher is brought in as a permanent replacement. Jamie then immediately leaves the class and drives straight to Livingston. Spending the night in her car, she spends the morning driving to law offices hoping to find Beth. Locating her address, Jamie sees Beth in the parking lot and told her she drove over knowing that if she didn’t she would never see her again. Beth fails to respond and so Jamie leaves abruptly. On her way home, she falls asleep at the wheel and plows into an empty field.”