Showing Up (2023)

Showing Up (2023)

A gentle, unhurried character study that deconstructs myths about art-making



United States of America
Comedy, Drama
Amanda Plummer, André 3000, Bahni Turpin
108 min


Come for the gentle meditation on art-making, stay for the sweet pigeon and André Benjamin (of OutKast fame) playing the flute.

What it's about

Sculpture artist Lizzy finds her preparations for her upcoming show interrupted by a series of small-scale dramas.

The take

The title of this small-scale comedy drama alludes to an aspect of creativity that isn’t inherently cinematic but which is necessary if you’re going to make anything: just showing up and doing the work. Kelly Reichardt’s filmmaking is in keeping with that focus: this is a gentle movie, full of the patience the art-making process requires and which has always characterized her contributions to “slow cinema.” 

The film is set in a small creative community where the prickly Lizzy (Michelle Williams) works in administration at an arts center and perfects her sculptures for her upcoming solo show. Her efforts are hampered by small daily dramas, though, like the pigeon whose wing her naughty kitty has broken or the friends of her father who lightly exploit his hospitality. And then there’s her neighbor and landlord Jo (Hong Chau), a rising star of an artist who inspires thorny feelings of inadequacy in the only moderately successful Lizzy. Reichardt and Williams deftly explore these insecurities, subtly suggesting that one-sided resentments like Lizzy’s are easily dissolved with a bit of human connection. These gentle moments of insight are rewarding, but it should be noted that your mileage may vary with Showing Up’s insular art world focus and Reichardt’s more unhurried-than-ever pace.

What stands out

Naturally, the film spends a good deal of its more observational minutes watching Lizzy work painstakingly on her clay sculptures, but Showing Up also grants the same generosity to Jo and the film’s unnamed characters. As with all of Reichardt’s movies, there’s deep empathy for everyone here, as evidenced by the lingering interludes interspersed throughout the film in which we watch the art school’s anonymous students hone their craft, whether by painting, sketching, or participating in eccentric classes like “Thinking and Moving.” Those viewers who are open to Reichardt’s contemplative style might just find that Showing Up’s loving focus on the unsensational work of art-making reflects warmly onto the film itself.


Add a comment

What did you think? Who should watch it?




More like this in

Robots (2023)

This failed attempt at a romcom sci-fi is embarrassing at best and offensive at worst


Big George Foreman (2023)

This formulaic biopic isn’t nearly as remarkable as its titular champion


Blaze (2022)

A unique drama whose visual inventiveness does little to deepen its sensitive subject matter


The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

A star-studded and riveting legal drama with a blockbuster feel.


The Guilty (2018)

A minimalist, razor-sharp thriller that will have you gasping for air.


Theater Camp (2023)

Made with obvious love, this riotous shot of mockumentary joy also has a surprisingly sincere heart


System Crasher (2019)

A tale of trauma and one of the most talked about movies on Netflix in 2020.


Sentinelle (2023)

A stupidly funny spoof that could use a little more commitment and heart


Pauline at the Beach (1983)

A characteristically perceptive X-ray of human nature courtesy of a conversational movie master


A Silent Voice (2016)

A coming-of-age movie that circles around friendship and the atonement of a boy


Curated by humans, not algorithms.

agmtw logo

© 2023 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.