Thursday, December 31, 2020

Movie with Abe: Nomadland

Nomadland
Directed by Chloé Zhao
To Be Released February 19th, 2021

Putting down roots can provide people with a sense of community and security. That lifestyle isn’t for everyone, however, and some embrace the continually changing nature of their existence, which might keep them moving from place to place and following whatever opportunities and palatable weather come along. Someone may also transition from being settled to a more transitory way of life, particularly if the elements that were grounding them, like family, friends, or a job, are no longer present and nowhere really feels like home anymore.

Fern (Frances McDormand) sees the factory in her Nevada town closed due to economic troubles in 2011, and her zip code discontinued as a result of the exodus of residents seeking work. Recently widowed, Fern lives in her van and explores the nomad lifestyle, working as a seasonal employee for Amazon to earn enough money and take advantage of the parking arrangement for what counts as her mobile home. Fern learns from other people about a range of topics, including changing tires and managing your own waste, while she keeps moving around from job to job in search of some way to stay afloat and continue wandering the country at her own pace.

This film is based on the 2017 nonfiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder. Fern encapsulates the experience of many who have chosen the nomad lifestyle, sometimes voluntarily but mostly due to financial troubles caused by the 2008 recession. She is told by multiple people, those who know her and strangers alike, that they are concerned about her and are happy to offer her a place to stay, but she realizes that an option like that might bring her temporary peace but ultimately wouldn’t be what she needs after seeing that which she held most dear – her husband and her community – disappear.

McDormand is a two-time Oscar-winning actress whose immersion into this role feels effortless. She creates the truest definition of a real person, someone who doesn’t want to be told what to do and acknowledges her own limitations. It’s a powerhouse turn supported by real-life nomads Charlene Swankie and Bob Wells, who embody a certain calm serenity and optimistic outlook about their atypical worldview, and David Strathairn, in a similarly toned-down performance. Director Chloé Zhao’s follow-up to the highly acclaimed “The Rider” is, like that film, a sensitive and captivating look at loneliness and mobility, with stunning cinematography and a beautiful score by Ludovico Einaudito assist its stark and haunting narrative.

B+

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