“Things usually get done – just not on time.” Those wise words from the artist Lizzie, superbly underplayed by Michelle Williams, capture the paradox at the heart of this charming, subtle film. Making art is all about nurturing a flow of creativity, but everything to do with maintaining a career in art – catalogues, exhibitions, classes – implies deadlines, pressures and constraints. Even more pointedly, it involves managing a complicated set of social relations with gallery owners, critics, teachers and technicians – and, above all, rivals. For Lizzie, all of this is painful – especially when her major rival, Jo, is also her landlord and friend.
No one shows better than Rotterdam regular Kelly Reichardt (First Cow, IFFR 2021) the casual, disheartening slights that individuals – particularly women – suffer in daily, energy-draining situations. Add in divorced parents who remain at loggerheads, a mentally ill brother, and a wounded pigeon, and it’s no wonder that Lizzie is in a perpetual state of emotional implosion, mixed with just a little passive-aggression in order to survive. Shot at the Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland with sculptures provided by Cynthia Lahti, Reichardt continues to explore her fascination with the meticulous process of working – for art is work, too.