“Certain Women,” helmed by highly regarded director Kelly Reichardt, is already generating buzz.
The film was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January and received a unanimous 100 percent rating on rottentomatoes among the 18 critics who have reviewed it.
Stewart stars with veteran actresses Laura Dern and Michelle Williams. Both are Academy Award nominees and winners of numerous acting awards.
In contrast, Stewart has never been a darling of the critics, even though she won raves, at age 12, for her breakout performance in the 2002 David Fincher thriller “Panic Room.”
She also won praise for her role as the daughter of hippie parents in the 2007 biographical drama “Into the Wild.”
But her seminal role as Bella Swan in five “Twilight” movies marked a turning point in more ways than one. While the films were phenomenally successful financially, critics tore them apart along with Stewart’s acting.
Her next big-budget film, “Snow White and the Huntsman” also fell short among critics. Once again, her acting was described as stiff and unemotional, the same criticism she faced in “Twilight.”
She continued to star in smaller, indie movies like “On the Road” and “Camp X-Ray,” and both helped crack her “Twilight” image.
Then, her 2012 cheating scandal with “Snow White” director Rupert Sanders, a married father of two, exploded in the tabloids.
The scandal set her back in the eyes of Hollywood’s establishment. She didn’t make another film for almost two years.
She cemented her comeback and finally won substantial critical acclaim in 2014 films “Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Sill Alice.”
In fact, Michael Barker, co-chief executive of Sony Pictures Classic, made a near unprecedented move by announcing he would personally lobby for a Stewart Oscar for supporting actress for “Still Alice.” He called it her best work.
The move backfired spectacularly. She was snubbed for every major award.
But she scored a breakthrough the same year. She won a highly coveted Cesar Award, France’s highest acting honor, for her supporting role in “Clouds of Sils Maria.”
She’s been going full bore since then, starring in 2015 indie films, “Anesthesia,” “American Ultra,” and “Equals.” Critics, however, panned every one of them.
In “Certain Women,” Kristen plays a young law school student who develops romantic feelings for a rough-hewn ranch hand played by Lily Gladstone in her first big-screen debut.
Although Reichardt is getting most of the praise, performances by all three actresses have been singled out as well. Whether the film leads to Stewart’s recognition as an Oscar worthy actress remains to be seen. But she’s certainly in good company.
“Certain Women” will be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York International Film Festival along with her new film “Personal Shopper.” It will go into limited release in theaters Oct. 14.
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