You know from the movie previews and the rumblings from the multiplex'sadjacent theater that today's movies are heavily weighted toward"action films." Writer-director-editor Kelly Reichardt couldsinglehandedly reverse that trend with Certain Women, which can mostsuccinctly be described as an "inaction film." It's kind of hard to getused to Reichardt's pace, so you might watch this and think "Wha---?"Here, the drama is at the deep inside the characters, hidden from allviews except the closest. And that's what it gets from Reichardt—"apoet of silences and open spaces," says A.O. Scott in the New YorkTimes. Based on short stories by Maile Meloy, the film is set in andaround Livingston, Montana, and the views of the lonely snowsweptplains are breathtaking. The story is presented in three separatevignettes that barely intersect. In the first, Laura Dern plays LauraWells, a lawyer trying to convince her persistent client (Jared Harris)that he can't sue his former employer for on-the-job injuries becausehe already accepted a settlement. The client doesn't believe it until amale lawyer tells him the same thing. She's disappointed at manylevels—with her clients, her career, her love life. The middle vignetteinvolves Gina (Michelle Williams), a married woman with a disaffectedteenage daughter. She and her husband are building a new house, and shehopes to convince a slightly addled, elderly neighbor (ReneAuberjonois) to sell them a pile of unused sandstone blocks in hisfront yard. Behind Gina's bright smile, you can feel her irritationthat the neighbor focuses his attention not on her request but on herhusband, eliding the decision, and finally the husband sells her out.Even within the bosom of her family, it's clear, she's alone. Thedreamiest and most poignant sequence follows the young womanJamie—beautifully underplayed by Lily Gladstone—on her daily routine,feeding and caring for a group of horses on a remote ranch. Therepetitiveness of her tasks in the snowy, mountains in the distance, ismesmerizing. Her routine and her equilibrium are disturbed by a chanceacquaintance with Beth, a harried young lawyer played by KristenStewart, overwhelmed by her own, very different grind. The extent ofJamie's disturbance is painfully revealed in her quiet face, upon which"silent passion surges like an underground stream," Scott says. Theacting is subtle and true, and Reichardt closely follows the dictum,"show, don't tell." Her characters don't scream and rail and tell youwhat their issues are. You see it laid bare in front of you.