‘Certain Women’ reviews: Kristen Stewart & Michelle Williams could get Oscar boost from ‘marvelous’ indie drama

Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams may be Oscar rivals this year for their supporting roles in “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” and “Manchester by the Sea” respectively but coincidentally they’re co-stars in “Certain Women,” the critically acclaimed indie drama that opened on Friday, Oct. 14.

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Stewart and Williams don’t share any scenes together, though. “Certain Women” tells three loosely connected stories of women living in Montana. Stewart plays a law student who develops a bond with a local rancher (Lily Gladstone), while Williams stars in a separate storyline as a woman looking for the sandstone she needs to build a new house. Laura Dern appears in a third segment as a lawyer whose client becomes desperate after a workplace injury. (Watch Stewart discuss the film at the New York Film Festival.)

“Certain Women” is directed by Kelly Reichardt, whose previous films including “Wendy and Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff” (both starring Williams) have made her a critical darling, and this film is no exception. It has scored 83 on MetaCritic and 95% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. That could be helpful for both women on the critics’ awards circuit, where actors are often advantaged by having standout roles in multiple films — like Jessica Chastain, who won multiple critics’ prizes in 2011 when she was in a half-dozen critically admired films (the academy nominated her for “The Help”).

Find out how Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams will do at the Oscars this year

Williams could be cited for “Certain Women” together with “Manchester,” while Stewart has this film, “Billy Lynn” and Woody Allen‘s summer comedy “Cafe Society.” Could they both get a boost from this film? Check out some of the reviews below, and discuss “Certain Women” and more in our movies forum.

April Wolfe (Village Voice): “In the subtle and affecting ‘Certain Women’ (based on stories by Maile Meloy), and following ‘Meek’s Cutoff’ and ‘Night Moves,’ Kelly Reichardt — with her usual attention to the humanity amid the mundane and the absurd — again gives due credit to those who are too busy just getting on to care about big-city trivialities. ‘Certain Women’ is a kind, loving, and deeply moving portrait of bighearted small-town people.”

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Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times): “‘Certain Women,’ with its three-part structure and prominent roles for Dern, Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams (the star of ‘Wendy and Lucy’ and ‘Meek’s Cutoff’), would seem to mark a step forward in scale and ambition … What she has wrought here is very much of a piece with her earlier work, and it’s eerily close to perfect.”

Guy Lodge (Variety): “Few contemporary filmmakers can do quite as much with quiet as Kelly Reichardt. Superficially empty soundscapes are layered so intricately with the rustle of nature, the brooding of weather and the breathing of preoccupied people that her films come to seem positively noisy to a sympathetic ear. So it is in the marvelous ‘Certain Women.'”

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