Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Movie Review: Nomadland

This year’s Oscars are getting a late start, thanks to the ongoing pandemic and everything. So when the nominations finally do get announced, a month from now, I certainly hope to see Chloé Zhao’s beautifully meditative “Nomadland” in the mix. It’s one of those movies that quietly stays with you long after the credits roll.

Based on the non-fiction book of the same name that chronicles the people whose lives were changed forever by the Great Recession, the film is a love song to American freedom. No, not that bullshit “freedom” those assholes flying yellow “Don’t Tread on Me”-flags or waving weapons of war from their front lawns espouse. But true freedom, what it means to live unshackled by the expectations of polite (and not-so-polite) capitalist America.

This is the kind of living free that comes from not needing to keep up with the Jones, or pretend a house is the only home. When your only desire is to experience the vast majesty of America. In some ways, I envy the nomads. How liberating it must feel to pick up and take off and just go. But in other ways it absolutely terrifies me.

Zhao wrote, directed, edited and produced the film, along with fellow producer and star Frances McDormand. They also cast some of the real-life nomads from the book in the film, who lend authenticity to the project.

The film makes me even more excited to see what Zhao can do with her big-budget, big-name debut at the helm of Marvel’s “The Eternals,” starring Angelina Jolie and a host of others. But while that movie will no doubt be a big, bombastic blockbuster, “Nomadland” is the exact opposite.

Indeed, some of my favorite scenes revel in the stark beauty of the American West. I always laugh at those small-minded enough to complain about immigrants coming to America. The “Fuck Off, We’re Full” sentiment has no semblence in reality if you’ve ever driven across this country. You can go miles and miles and so many miles without seeing someone. And it’s wonderful.

Zhao and MCDormand have captured that glorious emptiness, and remind us that being alone and being lonely aren’t always the same thing.


Anonymous said...

Saw it yesterday.... it was beautiful

Anonymous said...

Rather embarrassed to say I had not even heard of this so thanks for the heads-up. Looks totally up my alley.