Cannes 2022: Showing Up

American director Kelly Reichardt reunites with her favourite actor, Michelle Williams, for a tender portrait of an artist and their surrounding community

Film Review by Iana Murray | 31 May 2022
  • Showing Up
Film title: Showing Up
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Michelle Williams, Hong Chau, Judd Hirsch

In Kelly Reichardt’s previous film, the wondrous First Cow, the director forges sublime tranquillity in the menial. In it, we spent time observing a frontierman's careful baking operation and we practically salivate over his delicious pastries – oily cakes – arranged on a platter at the local market. For Reichardt’s latest, Showing Up, there’s as much attention applied to the creative process – the thoughtfulness and deliberate hand behind creating beautiful art that can remove oneself away from harsh reality.

Showing Up reunites Reichardt with frequent collaborator Michelle Williams, who plays Lizzy, a sculptor fixated on preparing for an upcoming showcase. Her practice involves moulding expressive models of women in free-flowing positions — leaping, flying, arms open. It’s a direct contrast to the sometimes acidic Lizzy, who openly shows her irritation at her well-meaning landlord, Jo (Hong Chau). Unable to take a warm shower thanks to a broken boiler, Lizzy’s patience runs even thinner when Jo asks her to look after an injured pigeon.

Still, Lizzy nurses it back to health, her heart opening up to gentleness as so many do in Reichardt’s films. As a portrait of an artist and their surrounding community, Showing Up is a more reverential than a satirical perspective on the art world. At the school where she works, the camera lingers on students and their playful creativity: video projections light up the walls and canvases are strewn across hallways. Filmed on location at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, you can imagine how the filmmaker’s own experience working concurrently as an artist and educator has inspired her. This is another one of her masterstrokes.

Showing Up had its world premiere at Cannes Film Festival