In ‘Showing Up,’ Michelle Williams Brilliantly Taps Into an Artist’s Inner Hell

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/A24

Being an artist is really, really hard. (No, like, actually.) That reality isn’t exactly accepted by a decent chunk of the population, who believe that pursuing the arts is a ticket to an unhappily debt-riddled existence, devoid of any mass-marketable skill. But those admonishments are an intrinsic part of why the creative life is such a uniquely difficult burden. Apart from navigating a competitive industry, an artist is doomed to face critics—not just of their work, but of their entire profession.

Director Kelly Reichardt is certainly no stranger to staring down both of these facets of her artistry. Reichardt is as acclaimed as she is divisive, with most of her films categorized as “slow cinema,” a genre defined by work that is leisurely but willfully dense. When she broke out of that reductive classifier for the 2014 thriller, Night Moves, Reichardt received praise for crafting her “most accessible film to date.” In a way, the response to Night Moves was almost an exercise in how critics and audiences approach films, always looking for similar genres or familiar themes to cling to. Reichardt’s art was understood by what it could be compared to, not for what it was.

In her latest film, the splendid Showing Up (now in theaters), Reichardt reteams with her longtime collaborator Michelle Williams to tackle the peculiar interiority of being an artist. Over the course of one chaotic week, a sculptor named Lizzy (Williams) scrambles to prepare for her latest show. Amidst an onslaught of drama with her family, friends, and day job, Lizzy has to contend with the fact that balancing her personal life with her creative one is an art in and of itself. The result is a lovely, enchantingly funny meditation on what it’s like to crave a modicum of control, while continuously hindered by how big your heart is.

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Source: The Daily Beast

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