Art is a rather complex concept. Art can have no rhyme or reason but still reflect some genuine feelings, ideas, or observations by the artists. Art can also be simplistic, primary, and even silly. Writer/director Kelly Reichardt explores these ideas on a much simpler and more humble level with her new film Showing Up. With this new feature, the filmmaker explores not only the passion and determination of an artist but also the more laughable aspects of the art world. Art is a uniquely human creation on our planet, and this funny but engaging movie acknowledges the human element that goes into various forms of artwork.

Michelle Williams stars as Lizzy, an artist who sculpts figures inspired by her limited life experiences. Her life is limited because the socially awkward artist cannot communicate well with her colleagues and needs help relating to everyone. In addition to this problem, Lizzy worries about her seemingly naive father, Bill (Judd Hirsch), her mentally ill brother Sean (John Magaro), and her frustrating lack of hot water in her apartment, which her fellow artist/landlord Jo keeps dragging her heels to fix. While all of life’s frustrations are at an all-time high, Lizzy works feverishly to get her artwork done for her exhibition.

On paper, this movie is a challenging film to sell. However, the writing by both Reichardt and Jon Raymond, along with the solid direction by Reichardt, make Showing Up very absorbing, amusing, and relatable on a certain level. This film will not appeal to everyone. Still, I acknowledge that artists and admirers of various art forms (including film) can relate to the community explored in this movie and some of the personalities that abound within similar environments.

Reichardt has a talent for making the uneventful appear remarkable and fascinating. The filmmaker has a gift for creating/capturing what should be a mundane moment in regular life and infusing it with either gravity or levity that still has an impact. Showing Up is not, at all, an exception to this sentiment. Only some people will agree with me on this opinion, but this movie and some of her previous entries have affected me.

As I reflect upon the cast’s performances, everyone completely understood the film’s tone and knew what Reichardt wanted from their respective characters. However, the show’s real star is Michelle Williams, who portrays Lizzy as a perpetually annoyed and frustrated artist who gets through life through mostly passive-aggressive behavior. Hong Chau co-stars as Lizzy’s landlord and fellow artist, Jo. Jo is the antithesis of Lizzy’s personality. She is amiable with her social circle, and this group enjoys hanging out with her. At the same time, her artwork is a mess and doesn’t quite deserve the attention it is getting.

However, this movie deserves more attention than it will probably get. Fans of Kelly Reichardt will enjoy this movie to a certain level, but not as much as some of her previous entries. As for me, I cannot include myself as an ardent fan. I have enjoyed some of her other movies, but not every single one. In fact, besides First Cow, this would be another entry by Reichardt which works swimmingly for me. I recommend Showing Up for people who enjoy unique and distinctive art films that are as complex and mesmerizing as the subjects they portray.

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