Kelly Reichardt’s films (Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy) can seem like delicate creatures while you’re watching them. Their true sturdiness and depth emerge only after you’ve allowed time for the details to sink in.
Reichardt’s latest, Certain Women, connects the daily lives–and the workaday loneliness–of four women in rural Montana: a lawyer (Laura Dern) representing an injured construction worker (Jared Harris) who has already settled his case but can’t let it go; an alienated mother (Reichardt regular Michelle Williams) whose husband (James Le Gros) is building her a dream house, even though he barely understands who she really is; and a shy ranch worker (Lily Gladstone) drawn to the distracted law-school grad (Kristen Stewart) who tools into her town twice a week to teach a night class.
Certain Women burns slow, but it leaves behind a mysterious, shimmering aura. You feel you know these women–even if their feelings are at times elusive even to themselves.
This appears in the October 24, 2016 issue of TIME.