‘Showing Up’: For Michelle Williams & Kelly Reichardt, Their Cinema Is About Discovering “Another Layer” – Cannes

Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt’s work with Michelle Williams has spanned four movies now with the Cannes Film Festival closer Showing Up. 

In the movie, Williams plays a sculptor preparing to open a new show as she balances her creative life with the daily dramas of family and friends. The show could be a game changer for her.

Similar to previous Reichardt features, Showing Up is a portrait about the nuances and minimalism in life. Deadline reviewer Stephanie Bunbury points out that “Each character’s drama, if you could call it that, lies under the surface.” Bunbury also says, “Showing Up is about endless, tiny acts of persistence. Very little happens.”

“We keep writing about introverts,” said Reichardt at the Cannes presser this AM about her work with Williams which also spans Meek’s Cutoff, Certain Women and Wendy and Lucy. 

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“That gets left on Michelle’s shoulder a lot,” added the director, “Michelle has a process some of which is mysterious to me and some of which is talked through. She likes a lot of questions, answers and thinking about it,” Reichardt added.

The director mentioned how the final endgame of the film, an art show, really isn’t meant to go off with big fireworks in regards to some great 180 for Williams’ character, Lizzie.

Said Showing Up co-scribe Jonathan Raymond who wrote the movie with Reichardt, “A lot of art-based narrative movies go toward success and failure. That’s not really how the art-making process works. The judgements are mixed and you do it for many different reasons. Those rise and fall stories are fantasy.”

“Kelly is interested in moral equations of everyday life and that’s juicy stuff to talk about,” added Raymond.

“The movies feel so naturalistic and honest,” explained Williams, “How much can you get away with in that kind of observation and the camera on you? You can’t hide a lot.”

Talking about their shorthand together, Williams also said, “I’m surprised when I get the call.”

Reichardt said “We’re very to the point of each other…there’s no walking on egg shells. Michelle is always game for whatever you put in front of her.”

“There’s a lot of mutual respect and love; you can get to the heart of things and battle it out; when you need to go to the better place without there being any hurt,” added the filmmaker who also teaches college students.

When it comes to working with Williams, “I know there’ s going to be another layer that I can’t see.”

Ditto for the 4x Oscar nominee.

“I feel there’s something, there’s another layer that I’m not really privy to. I’m excited to understand what else has been on your mind,” Williams told Reichardt at the conference, “and what the thing is that I’m here to help you bring to life.”

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