Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, Nomadland features real nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.
Director: Chloé Zhao
Cast: Frances McDormand
Review: Nomadland is beautifully made (though not “poetic,” as many will tag it, so much as pictorial). It’s also heartwarming bullshit. Taking off from Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book, Nomadland gives us a community of good earthy folk who live in vans and RVs, roaming the country, taking temp work. This is the nicest movie about homelessness, financial despair and human frailty you’ll ever see.
Frances McDormand anchors the plotless, anecdotal film, but her role has been shaped by writer-director Chloé Zhao to make her the anchor — it’s an actor’s delight, a silently strong hero who stoically suffers. Zhao is known for filling her movies with nonactors “playing” themselves, and with the exception of McDormand and David Strathairn as Dave, a quietly unstable fellow nomad, that’s how Nomadland is cast.
I’m a huge fan of indie and arthouse movies, however, Nomadland is just a 2 hour story-less picture, with no determinable start middle and end, of a woman living out a life of quiet desperation, which is depressing and slow in itself, teeming with shots of Frances McDormand thinking.
Verdict: Not Worth the Popcorn