It is the nature of multi-narrative movies like this one—adapted by Kelly Reichardt from Montana-set short stories by Maile Meloy—to risk unevenness. The first installment here, about an attorney (Laura Dern) and her interactions with a troubled client (Jared Harris), has some affecting character moments with a subtle gender-politics component; the second, about a married couple (Michelle Williams and James LeGros) experiencing tensions as they work on building a new house, never quite seems to find its footing in attempting to make Williams’ character three-dimensional. But the capper is truly remarkable: A young ranch hand named Jamie (Lily Gladstone) impulsively wandering into a night class on school legal issues, and becoming infatuated with the instructor (Kristen Stewart). Everything that is strongest about Reichardt’s work is on display here, as she guides newcomer Gladstone to a stunning performance of low-key loneliness, wrapped in events so casually natural—like the mundane, real-world questions asked by the class’s other attendees—you can’t feel the heartbreak coming. The attempts to connect those stories feel perfunctory, but everything is worth the wait for that achingly lovely final 40 minutes.
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Producer: Larry Fessenden, Todd Haynes, Nathan Kelly, Neil Kopp, Vincent Savino and Anish Savjani
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, Rene Auberjonois, Jared Harris, James LeGros, John Getz, Ashlie Atkinson, Lily Gladstone and Sara Rodier