"I like to see myself as something of a free spirit," says Darcy Baylor, to which her best friend immediately replies, "There's nothing free about your spirit." Since Darcy Baylor is played by Holly Hunter we get it right away. Is there any actress who can seem so steely and yet so delicate at the same exact time as she can? Who can be so simultaneously wistful and erratic? She's a free spirit like a banshee is a free spirit.
Strange Weather is a road trip movie (written and directed by Katherine Dieckmann) and so this conversation takes place behind the wheel, as many of them do - Darcy's on the road looking for answers about the death of her son, only seven years have passed and so those answers have begun to scatter on the wind. Her own shock and grief held her in a daze - the only thing that snaps her free is the realization that the world around her has started forgetting, and she might never know if she doesn't come to.
The world that Darcy walks in is awash in signs of forgetfulness - the sea is rising up and taking away even the roads across southern Louisiana that she is driving. Darcy has an entire conversation with an important character from her past whose wandered into early dementia, their face an uncomprehending mask as she feels for meaning, or glimpses therein. And so Hunter's determination, brittle as it may be, is imperative to sweep together a picture of what was lost as best she can.
Oh what a pleasure it is to spend an hour and a half watching Holly Hunter, an actress of entirely particular and marvelously unique gifts, stretch free and scatter. You get halfway into a film like Strange Weather and you realize you've been dehydrated, parched, thirsty af, for the long cool beverage this movie is providing.
Surrounding her with screen partners as rich in feeling as Carrie Coon and Glenne Headly doesn't hurt - Coon continues to deliver on the promise she's been showing off on TV in The Leftovers and Fargo (where did this woman come from, and why hasn't she been in everything for all my life?) but it's Headly's brief couple of scenes at the midpoint that gave me my favorite lived-in little portrait of smart Southern ladies of lower-class status, and not just because we sadly lost this fine actress earlier this year. The way she delivers the line, "Relax that smart thing, baby," while waving around french-tipped nails... it will stay with me always.
But in the end Strange Weather is Holly Hunter's show and Strange Weather proves it's a show I never want to end, and a show I will always come back to for more. Holly Hunter is a gift, and may she always keep giving.
Strange Weather is out in theaters and on demand today.