Before the film’s premiere on Monday, October 3rd, Kelly Reichardt, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern and Lily Gladstone spoke about ‘Certain Women’
The Kelly Reichardt penned and (wo)manned Certain Women premiered at Sundance in January to great acclaim, but now, at NYFF (and soon in theaters) larger crowds are beginning to see it for themselves. The slow, tightly-paced melodrama delves into the lives of three (seemingly) unconnected women living in the state of Montana. On Monday, the director and some of the stars answered the media’s questions about working on the project. Here are some of the highlights:
What was it about these stories that drew you to make this move?
Kelly Reichardt: The stories are from Montana based writer Maile Meloy. I had done four films with Jonathan Raymond out in Oregon and he had children and wanted to pay attention to them. Whatever (laughs). I was left on my own. It was a new landscape to investigate. All the characters were part of the environment they were in. All these women characters were alienated by the people closest to them, yet somehow making connections to strangers.
Did you guys think of yourselves as being in separate movies?
Laura Dern: I’m assuming we all share this, there was a longing to feel the connections so that we were fulfilling the collaborative hole we were asked to do by Kelly. It’s illusive and subtle. The reason Kelly is so interesting is that she is interested in the life in the pauses.
Lily Gladstone: The more you watch it you remember making choices, something you were sitting with and letting digest in your gut and you feel little burps of emotion come out. Choices we made revealed a lot of who The Rancher became. I found the takes and the character choices I made. Kelly saw the takes and the through-line.
Your characters seem to be rooted secondary to the landscape. The actors recite words, but what’s underneath that is what captures me.
Kelly Reichardt: There is a role on set between me and Chris Blauvelt, the cinematographer, that there can be no landscape for the sake of beauty. It has to be serving something. Same with an animal. It can’t be for the sake of sentiment. There’s a painter I like in Oregon, Michael Brophy. They are landscapes but you can’t ever escape the tracks of where we’ve been. A lot of places we leave the most beautiful shots behind us. The shots can get across loneliness, but it’s a fine line. I don’t want it to play the part of sentiment. It’s where they fit it in it. The goal is to physicalize what’s internal without having to use dialogue. I like the dialogue, but I love what you can get across with a cut or how someone moves through the frame.
Kristen Stewart: It’s so stunningly beautiful. You have a character who lives in this environment that says so much about her. I love physical beauty but not like someone who lives in Montana and runs a f**king ranch and gives themselves completely to this in a way that is mystical and beyond me. There is a reverence to it that is immediately contagious. It’s not just pretty for the sake of being pretty.
Lily Gladstone: When we were shooting we were at the epicenter of three different mountain ranges. Three mountain fronts, three stories, I thought that was serendipitous.
You work a lot in Hollywood and now you are doing independent films. As an actor do you find this more satisfying? Is it a conscious choice or did it just come to you?
Kristen Stewart: I would never draw attention to the distinction between doing a big movie and a small one. I’ve never approached anything going ‘this is bigger, therefore I’m less entitled to something meaningful,’ even if the result of it makes you think it.
Certain Women is playing now at NYFF and is coming to theaters Oct. 14