Showing Up Movie Review

Director Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams have made several films together. After this, it looks as if their collaborations aren’t going to stop. They seem to know one another as well as any couple does. “Showing Up” doesn’t have a lot of dialogue and what it does have is often repeated and arbitrary. Most of the story comes from its delightful visuals if you understand where Reichardt is coming from. Williams has a lot of talent and skill and uses it here.


Williams plays Lizzy, a ceramic artist who needs to get her life sorted out. Through her art, she can do this if she allows herself to. Her mother, Jean (Plunkett), who doesn’t think too much of her daughter in any compacity, owns an art studio where Lizzy is, basically, allowed to answer the phone. Her artist friend and landlord, Jo (Hong Chau), walks all over her tenant, denying her the one thing she needs most. True friendship. Well, that and hot water. It seems Lizzy has been out of it for quite some time, but that’s not this landlord’s problem. She has other things to do. You watch in sadness as Lizzy accepts that as grounds enough and as she does nothing to help herself, always allowing people to treat her poorly. Clearly, she doesn’t think much more of herself than they do.



In this film, a bird is injured by Lizzy’s cat. Jo finds the bird and decides she needs to nurse it back to health. This requires help from her lodger, who is busy with her ceramics… not to mention that she has a cat. She takes the bird in any way, because it doesn’t matter what’s going on in her life. Why? Because everyone comes before her. Well, it was her cat who injured the thing.


Through the bird and its needs, however, Lizzy finds a voice within, trying her best to get Jo to comprehend that while she’s having a “helping the broken-winged love of her life” moment, you can’t just leave it with others and expect them to do the work for you.

Her brother, a paranoid man who needs medicine and therapy before he leaps off of a bridge, is regarded highly by everyone. Lizzy has an art show, hoping that she’ll finally get half of the attention he gets. He shows up late and the focus, per usual, is on him walking in.


Kelly Reichardt, Director and Screenwriter of 2019’s “First Cow,” blew me away with that film. In my review, I said it was “A fascinating story, a peculiar story that’s much deeper than it appears on the surface.” And then, I added that “First Cow” was visually remarkable. Going into “Showing Up,” I had very high hopes. However, I will admit that comparing an artist’s work loved or not, isn’t fair to a new project. I should go in with open eyes, clearing them of expectations. On the other hand, audience members, if they felt the same way about “First Cow” as I did, should at least be entertained without having to look too intensely at the plot for the writer’s theme. A degree in film shouldn’t be required to “get it.”


I loved the art in the movie. Lizzy’s ceramics were incredible, and from how they’re observed, I’m guessing they’re members of her family. Regarding the art, a long-drawn-out scene of her sculpting arms on one of her pieces wasn’t necessary. Meaningless metaphors to your general audience won’t win you favors. They don’t want to work for their entertainment. Making a film chiefly for yourself (and those with a film degree) that suggests you have to dig much deeper into the meaning of a specific being to find the story isn’t entertaining to your more extensive audience.

I hope this does well, but it won’t because the characters aren’t as interesting as the writers would have you believe. If we had seen more of the finished art pieces, that may have helped.

Showing Up


Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
Writers: Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt, Jonathan Raymond
Starring: Michelle Williams, Hong Chau, Maryann Plunkett, John Magaro, André Benjamin, James Le Gros, and Judd Hirsch

Rated: R (Brief Graphic Nudity)
Run Time: 1h 48m
Genres: Comedy, Drama

Distributor: A24

Producers: Neil Kopp, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani


Rating contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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