I can see Old Joy being an insufferable watch for people.
I also can see someone that hated OJ liking W & L. Or, I can see someone that likes The Bicycle Thieves or movies of that ilk being taken with W & L.
It's a remarkable film showing socioeconomic forces at work on people. I also love what the film has to say, and I can't say it better than Reichardt. A couple of quotes:
"It was very post-Katrina -- what it was for everyone just to be watching, but also the conversation of, you know, "Those people, living in such peril," they wouldn't be in the shape they're in, the position they're in. We just started pondering: If you don't have a net and you've had a shitty education and you don't have the benefit of family that's in any better situation than you're in, how does one improve their lot? Not even reaching the middle class, but how do you just get a toehold in the next level? That was the seed, and then Jon went off and wrote the story. The screenplay was just an adaptation of his story."
"But when youíre strapped financially, itís hard to escape some things. The myth that weíve bought into in this country, especially in the last eight years, is that if itís not working out for you, then itís because youíre lazy or donít really want it. So we started with this character who actually has the wherewithal to look around her and say, ďThereís no opportunity here.Ē And she has the spirit to go out and seek something. Is that really all you need?"
"The idea was just that she would be a stranger, and the film has sort of proven the question to some degree. Do we have any responsibility to each other? What's our obligation to each other? And the way she just runs into people in the film, and comes across them, they don't know her whole story, and that was how I wanted the audience to be with her."
At the very least, I recommend the film solely for Michelle Williams' performance. Incredible. Off the top, probably the best American actress her age +/- 5 years.