Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 5-2018

Document Type



Lipins, Ilze. Neorealism and Intersectionality in the Films of Kelly Reichardt. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2018.


Copyright Ilze Lipins 2018


This project focuses on how Kelly Reichardt, a contemporary American independent filmmaker, depicts gender and class issues in American society today, particularly with attention to the lack of mobility lower-class women experience. This is accomplished by analyzing three of Reichardt’s films, River of Grass (1994), Wendy and Lucy (2008), and Certain Women (2016), informed by the ideals and techniques of neorealism. Through Reichardt’s incorporation of neorealist elements in her style, Reichardt stresses the intersectionality of gender and class issues and emphasizes the complexity of these social issues in a way rarely addressed in Hollywood films. From this perspective, a few key aspects become clear in Reichardt’s work. She depicts life beyond Hollywood’s scope as she focuses on narratives that are frequently underrepresented in mainstream films. Her camerawork suggests her female protagonists are restrained in some way, calling attention to the disadvantages women face in daily life. In addition, she avoids Hollywood’s tendency to blame characters for their problems, stressing that social issues do not simply stem from individual conflicts. These aspects become essential parts to understanding how Reichardt opposes the typical ways Hollywood films address gender and class issues and why she offers little solutions to these issues in her films’ conclusions. Through her work, Reichardt resists a sense of closure on gender and class issues. Instead, she highlights the importance of examining the persistent nature of these social problems.