Dir.: Chloé Zhao
We’re a simple page: we see Frances McDormand, we watch it.
Despite a powerful performance, though, that would elevate any movie, Nomadland has the first thirty minutes very intense and emotionally compelling, so than then… it won’t take off.
Fern (McDormand) is a widow who lost everything in the great recession of 2008. She wandered from job to job, from substitute Literature teacher to Amazon packaging. All alone, with no family, at the age of sixty, her life is a solitary and miserable one, to the point she lives in a van — the closest thing she might call a home.
Then she finds out that there’s a whole community of “car dwellers”, who promote meetings and support each other, wandering around the country trying to live in the moment, in opposition to building a patrimony.
And that’s when the film starts to lose traction. After a first encounter that will stir all the hair in your body, with big sparkling speeches about the precarious state of the working class, testimonies of real nomads playing themselves, socialization of goods and knowledge, and beautiful songs by the fire; Nomadland traces its way through a vicious cycle, that frames how bitter and harsh such a life on the road can be, a brutal image of our reality of late capitalism — but it doesn’t seem to have the guts to steer the wheel towards the slightest critique.
It is a beautiful (though hurting), well directed movie, but which arc doesn’t imply redemption or catharsis to anyone but the main character herself, whom it’s hard to empathize with, since we (the massive part of the audience) have never experienced such a level of poverty. And most of the ones who have will probably never watch this.
Talking of the status quo on its back, but never daring to face it, Nomadland unfortunately engages the second gear just to run out of fuel midway. 🦉
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