Director Kelly Reichardt slows things down with her latest film. Seemingly a departure from her usual fare into a quirky slice-of-life comedy with Showing Up. Michelle Williams delivers another incredible performance as Lizzy. She’s a sculpture artist who seems to isolate herself from her friend Jo (Hong Chau) and colleagues she works with, including her mother (Maryann Plunkett), as she is getting ready to open a new exhibition in her small town.

The pacing is deliberate; we get to see what a day in Lizzy’s life looks like before it gets discombobulated by her cat eating a pigeon’s wing in the middle of the night. Jo finds the pigeon outside the next day, and the two start to take care of him as they prepare for their exhibitions. They’re both artists who live in the same apartment complex. Jo is the tenant, but Lizzy gets increasingly frustrated at her for not wanting to fix her lack of hot water in her apartment, which has been going on for weeks.

Michelle Williams and Hong Chau are Spectacular in Showing Up

Hong Chau received recent praise for her Academy Award-nominated performance in Darren Aronofsky‘s risible The Whale. In Showing Up, she gives a compelling turn as Jo. Her chemistry with Williams is perfection, with many of the film’s best jokes occurring on very subtle occasions. In this film, Reichardt captures the mundane and Lizzy’s routines; which become a tool for her to use visual humor to draw in some terrifically timed comedy.

Williams is equally as magnifying. Playing an introverted artist with too little time to complete her exhibit since she’s preoccupied with so many things going on in her life. Williams’ recent turns have been excellent. She continues her streak here, delivering a funny and incredibly investing portrayal of Lizzy. It takes great skill to deliver such an excellent performance, and yet Williams does it so effortlessly.

Showing Up‘s Supporting Cast is Equally Excellent

Plunkett, Judd Hirsch, and John Magaro deliver terrific turns as Lizzy’s mother, father, and brother. Magaro is particularly compelling as Lizzy’s brother, currently living through a midlife crisis, never knowing what he’s about to do in front of everyone at Lizzy’s exhibit, arguably the movie’s best sequence. Hirsch and Plunkett play a divorced couple, and their banter, while short-lived, is a terrific feat to watch.

André Benjamin also appears as one of Lizzy’s colleagues and even provides flute music for the film. The score gives the film an even more precise aesthetic than what Reichardt tries to make you believe. Its aesthetic (particularly the sound design) perfectly aligns with Lizzy’s personality: attempting to be as methodical as possible but failing at doing so. Because of this, the tone and pacing may seem uneven, but it remains a compelling watch throughout.

Some audience members may not like how slow or deliberately monotonous the atmosphere is. While it does get a bit slow at times, I was always transfixed by the world Reichardt builds within her impeccably well-written characters, who are all terrifically performed by highly talented actors who know what to bring to their respective roles. It might not be for everyone. Some of the jokes may even fly over the audience’s heads. But if you stick with it, you’re likely to find high enjoyment with another banger from one of the most interesting filmmakers working today.

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