Film Review – Nebraska (2013)

Nebraska - post

Title – Nebraska (2013)

Director – Alexander Payne (Sideways)

Cast – Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach

Plot – Old time booze hound and generally uncooperative Woody Grant (Dern) takes a road trip with his youngest son David (Forte) when he insists that he has one a million dollars that needs to be collected in person from another state. A trip through Woody’s hometown in Nebraska reunites both family and friends and a few enemies as David begins to learn more about his father and also his mother Kate (Squibb).

“Have a drink with your old man. Be somebody!”

Review by Eddie on 11/07/2014

It seems as though every year a small yet in many ways significant film comes out of left field and strikes a chord with both audiences and critics, normally these films are human interest stories that don’t reach for the stars yet achieve it none the less – last year this film was Alexander Payne’s heartfelt and often bitingly funny Nebraska.

Featuring veteran actor Bruce Dern in an Oscar nominated role as aged Woody Grant that will hopefully send his career out on a high and some truly wonderful supports from Will Forte as hapless son David, Bob Odenkirk as successful and less tolerable son Ross and perhaps most memorable of all June Squib (in another Oscar nominated turn) as loud mouth and speak as it is family matriarch Kate, Nebraska is a little gem of a film that will slowly but steadily draw you into its tale and quite often take you by surprise with its direction. That Nebraska is such a joy is not only down to a cast totally and utterly in synch with their material but a smart understated turn behind camera by successful director Payne and one of last year’s best scripts by screenwriter Bob Nelson.

Filming in a stark black and white palette and with fantastic cinematography from Phedon Papamichael (not to mention some great composing work from Mark Orton) Payne shows a real affiliation with the material here and it’s arguably one of his strongest films yet even more so than Sideways and the oft overrated The Descendants. While Payne’s direction is always leading the way the path before him was set by some smart, witty and emotionally charged script work by Nelson whose written journey becomes more than a mere road trip by morphing into a tale about fathers and sons and what shapes someone into who they are at the present. It’s a relatable journey and one that will speak volumes to many different people and a masterstroke at the understated even though more than once you will find yourself laughing much harder than countless other comedies can only dream of achieving.

In many ways a small film yet in many other ways a film dealing with big issues such as dementia, depression and family, Nebraska is a very fine piece of filmmaking that deserved to get recognised the way in which it did at Awards ceremony’s the world over. Nebraska is worth the trip even more so when you consider the fine work by one of the industry’s true veterans in the form of Bruce Dern who delivers one of the best old timer performances since Jack Nicholson in Payne’s other road trip adventure About Schmidt.

4 compressors out 5

22 responses to “Film Review – Nebraska (2013)

  1. Hi Eddie! I couldn’t agree more! Nebraska was one of my favourite movies of 2013, and just gets better and better with repeat viewings. And you’re absolutely right about the humour: effortlessly funny throughout, and with so many layers it makes so called “bigger” movies look under-developed. I can’t wait for whatever he does next.

    • So good to hear Dullwood, it certainly put most comedies to shame from last year and it was a great example of humour mixed with genuine emotion. Very very enjoyable and Payne’s next project should be typically good.

  2. This was my favorite movie of 2013. I absolutely loved it. Bruce Dern has been around forever and he’s always been good, but there was something special about him in this movie. And I love your salute to the compressor 🙂

    • Joan how could I not pay tribute to that compressor, that was a golden moment :). Dern was just fantastic, in another year he may well have won that golden statue.

  3. It’s a very fine film with an excellent central performance by Bruce Dern. Squibb is profoundly affecting, too. Thanks for giving it the recognition the film and actors deserve.

  4. Good review Eddie. By now, I think we’re all used to seeing this kind of laid-down, subdued movie from Payne and it still works. Eventually, the act may grow tired, but for now, it’s keeping me happy.

  5. I enjoyed this one too Eddie. In fact, Nebraska was the first film I reviewed on my blog, a blog which was partially inspired by my realisation (at the time) that I had not seen any of the Academy’s Best Picture nominees. I loved Dern in Hitchcock’s Family Plot (1976), and was delighted to see what he delivered here. That said, June Squibb was the real revelation for me here, turning in a hilarious performance, and stealing the show right out from under Dern. Best, Phil

    • She really did man, every time she was on screen the film just went up a notch and she must of had a blast playing this character. Stoked you dug the film Phil.

  6. Pingback: Film Review - Nebraska (2013) | Tinseltown Times·

  7. Great review! As you can see on my blog, I am particularly sensitive to spoilers in the reviews I read. Without spoilers, you manage to give us such a fine analysis.

    • Cheers Barbara, there is surely nothing worse than spoilers so we make it a big deal here to try not talk to much about a films plot or details so glad you appreciate it 🙂

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