Title – Nomadland (2020)
Director – Chloé Zhao (The Rider)
Cast – Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Charlene Swankie, Linda May
Plot – In the aftermath of her husbands death and the closure of her entire town in the recession ridden times of America in 2012, Fern (McDormand) begins to live a life in her customized van and travels through the American West meeting a range of colourful characters as she learns to come to terms with her new world.
“I’m not homeless. I’m just house-less”
Review by Eddie on 14/01/2020
For just her third feature film following on from her debut Songs My Brothers Taught Me and the critically acclaimed drama The Rider, director Chloé Zhao has crafted one of the most humanly beautiful dramas of recent memory with Oscar frontrunner Nomadland.
An adaptation of Jessica Bruder’s novel that follows the van dwelling Fern through an American West odyssey in the wake of the death of her long-term husband and the closure of her entire town due to the great recession of the 2012-13 period, Nomadland is a transformative experience that will take those under its spell on a life-affirming cinematic journey full of heart, grace, humanity and soul, that is all courtesy of Zhao and her innate ability to capture humans and the emotions we all share.
Whilst brilliantly lead by another awards worthy performance from Frances McDormand as the shy, caring and most importantly likeable Fern, Nomadland much like The Rider is littered with non-actors playing versions of their real life selves or even quite literally being true to their true selves and its incredible to watch Zhao bring these souls into her narrative here and witnessing Fern mingle and come to terms with her new life in this van dwelling community is authentically touching, more so than any conjured up characters or Hollywoodization could ever muster up.
In many ways Nomadland feels documentary like in its capturing of Fern’s ride through life and the American landscape, but in saying so its taking away from the beauty Zhao captures with help from her D.O.P Joshua James Richards, who manages to perfectly encapsulate proceedings in both an intimate and grand manner, with small moments such as Fern wondering amongst a gathering of nomads in the cactus strewn plains or Fern exploring a Mars like setting, Richards and Zhao have put thought and care into every little detail of Nomadland’s visual storytelling.
Backed by selected compositions from esteemed pianist/composer Ludovico Einaudi, there’s no denying that Nomadland by design is an intimate small-scale film at heart, perfectly suited to its $4-$6 million dollar budget but so much of the film feels grand and without a doubt necessary to the time and place it has been released in, as many from around the world reevaluate where their lives are at, what’s important to them and what makes our lives meaningful.
It’s a quiet film, a film devoid of grand moments by the typical definition but one where you will find yourself moved by nothing more than a conversation between two people (featuring one of the real life stars of the film Swankie) about Swallows and Moose and to think of what Zhao can bring to her next film, Marvel’s high profile The Eternals, makes one very excited for a director that understands human interest and will no doubt manage to combine that with some stunning visuals and flair that should make her highest profile film yet another must-see.
Final Say –
A film deserving of the high praise it has so far received and is likely to get come this years untypical Oscar ceremony, Nomadland is an unforgettable piece of work by Zhao, her leading lady and all involved, as this moving and touching drama takes us to places few films can manage to inspire.
5 buckets out of 5