Gladstone was selected for the part of Jamie, a reclusive young woman who falls into the orbit of Stewart, a recent law school graduate undergoing a crisis of her own. In addition to Stewart, the leads are an acclaimed group: Laura Dern and Michelle Williams, forming a Robert Altman-like ensemble drama of everyday adults quietly consumed with crises.
Reichardt developed the screenplay from short stories by Helena native Maile Meloy.
Gladstone said it’s an ensemble-drama, three-act structure, with four leads who don’t necessarily interact with one another.
Dern plays an attorney named Laura Wells, whose client is unsatisfied with a workers’ compensation settlement and takes a handful of people hostage at the courthouse, a situation Laura must help diffuse.
Williams, a native of Kalispell, plays Gina Lewis, a woman whose marriage is falling apart. She and her husband become involved with an elderly man who has a stockpile of sandstone on his property.
Stewart and Gladstone’s story comprises the third act. Jamie lives and works alone as a ranch hand, caring for someone else’s animals.
Gladstone said she’s a young woman “in the throes of her first existential crisis.” She’s “very highly strung, somebody who wants to prove that she’s invincible but gets broken pretty frequently because of it.”
She meets Beth, a recent law school grad who’s teaching an adult education class in town, despite the long commute it requires.
“To Jamie she seems like this lawyer, this myth of a person, someone you meet and immediately put on a pedestal,” Gladstone said.
They soon find they have more in common than they realize.
“It feels like one of those points in all of our lives where we’re searching for something, and something comes and feels exactly like what we needed,” she said.
Gladstone said Stewart is level-headed and a hard worker, and Reichardt is an actor’s director – she gives the performers the first take and offers advice about scaling back or burying an emotion.
“She said at one point, ‘You get one moment in this story. And it’s not this one,’ ” Gladstone said.
The movie was shot mostly in the Livingston area on 16-millimeter film with the help of a grant from the Montana Film Office.
“There were a few times when the lens would frost and we couldn’t use the shot,” she said.