Mar 09

What If It Were Wendy & Lisa

FT5 comments • 504 views

Wendy And Lucy is a tinycore mood piece about poor, struggling Wendy (Michelle Williams) trying to drive up to Alaska with her dog Lucy. Wendy is looking for work and has a plan, but to get to Alaska she has to stick to a strict budget with very little room for disaster. Unfortunately disaster strikes in a small town, when her car breaks down. This financial shock leads her into petty theft, when she tries to steal dogfood for Lucy, which leads to a day in jail and Lucy going missing. So Wendy is stranded, lost her only friend and slowly running out of money. And the whole town, falling apart because its mill has closed down, doesn’t care. Wendy And Lucy is the zeitgeist poverty movie we were waiting for, if we wanted a movie to tell us exactly how miserable we were about to be. Which we don’t, and is why we are all waiting with baited breath for Star Trek.

I thought Wendy And Lucy was terrific, a really powerful piece of depression art, with plenty of resonance for previous recessions. But I recognise that it was never going to sell many cinema tickets. So here is my version:

Prince has taken the old band out again on tour, and Wendy And Lisa have their own tour bus. On the way to a gig in Alaska their tour bus breaks down. Wendy pops into a supermarket to get some M&M’s and accidentally gets busted for possession of a very small amount of drugs (and for still being involved in making the music for the excrable Heroes). When she gets out, Lisa is missing! Wendy searches everywhere, writing the odd plaintive ballad for her partner. Prince missing his crucial members of his live band returns to the small town and puts on a benefit show (note : this is ninety percent of the music, and is a greatest hit set). Lisa comes back. The end.

This version is clearly better, it maintains the structure of the original but where the Michelle Williams version has long stretches of moping, Wendy And Lisa has long stretches of Prince doing I Would Die 4 U. It would make a really good film EVEN BETTER!


  1. 1
    Mark M on 17 Mar 2009 #

    Saw this at the film festival* back in October – the friend who I went with is still traumatised. It’s awesomely bleak. Apparently, some people feel that the ending is hopeful. They are nuts.

    That’s a fine idea for an alternative version there, Pete.

    *Saw three films at the LFF, and two of them involved people losing their dogs in dead-end towns. One more and it would be an official trend! (The other one, Lake Tahoe – which despite the title is set in the Yucatan and not in Nevada – was really good).

  2. 2
    Alan on 17 Mar 2009 #

    W&L too busy doing the tunes on Heroes of course

  3. 3
    Pete on 17 Mar 2009 #

    Anyone who has seen Into The Wild will know what is about to happen just around the bend for poor old Wendy at the end. Riding the rails ain’t what it was.

    I suppose it could be seen as hopeful if you were more interested in Lucy’s story.

  4. 4
    DV on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Wendy & Lucy is one of those films that I would only go and see if there is a bit in the trailer where W&L find each other again.

    Wendy & Lisa – surely this has to end with them getting Prince ready for his bath, making sure the water is hot enough, etc.?

  5. 5
    lonepilgrim on 19 Mar 2009 #

    It would be cool if you had different characters in the movie singing Prince songs, like in True Stories where the actors sing Talking Heads toons. Perhaps a bunch of burly Alaskan lumberjacks singing ‘Sometimes it snows in April’

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