In Brief: The movie is about nomads. It wanders too much and couldn’t seem to decide if it’s a plot-driven movie or a documentary.
The book is Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century. It was written by Jessica Bruder who spent three years with nomads who travel the country full-time. These are displaced people who — for economic and other reasons — dumped their homes for campers and camping.
It’s a family of sorts. When they migrate they often go the same direction.
Nomadland is based on her story and stars Francis McDormand and some of the real nomads whose homes are vans and campers. McDormand is Fern. She is newly widowed and has just lost her job. Everything she holds near and dear is gone.
With few options, Fern fixes up a camper and hits the road. While on the road she connects with other nomads who teach her the ways of the road and how to survive. Also included in her story is an almost romance with a fellow nomad named Dave. He’s done by one of my all-time favorite character actors, David Strathairn.
Most of you will remember him for his Oscar and Golden Globe nominated performance as Edward R. Murrow in Good Night and Good Luck.
Nomadland is getting noticed. Director Chloe Zhao picked up two Golden Globe nominations for the movie. She’s up for awards for best screenplay and best director. The movie is nominated as the best film in the dramatic category and McDormand picked up a nod for best actress in a drama.
Oscar nominations are likely to follow.
Her acting is pretty good. So is that of her non-actor co-stars. They are very natural while offering interesting insights into the nomad lifestyle.
I’m baffled about the award attention the movie is getting. Did I see the same movie as everyone else? For sure the subject is interesting. Displaced people who set up their own underground society is fascinating. They survive by helping each other. Their community is strong and they have the pioneer spirit that people had in the 1800s and during the recession that hit this country in the 1930s.
Interesting, yes, but is it interesting enough for a feature movie. Some think so. I don’t. My problem was deciding what movie Zhao and McDormand — who produced — were making. At 1:45 it’s too slow to be an interesting drama and is too long to be an interesting documentary.
As it is, this movie about a woman wandering the nation wanders too much.
Director: Chloe Zhao
Stars: Francis McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells, Derek Endres
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some language. This is a tough one. It’s loved by critics everywhere and I thought it was really boring. You’ll have to decide whether I’m right for yourself. Give Nomadland a 2 1/2 on the Friday Flicks with Gary o to 5 scale.
You can see Nomadland in Vancouver at several theaters. Click here to see where.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.