Movie Review: Nomadland

August 8, 2021

Info from IMDB:



Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) 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.Searchlight Pictures

Initial Thoughts:

Like lots of people, I didn't get to nearly as many movies in theaters in 2020-2021 (though the rest of the year does show some promise) and I ended up seeing this on Disney+, but as it won Best Picture (and Best Actress) I knew I would watch it.

Main Points:

Seeing this with my wife and father-in-law was an interesting experience, both of them didn't enjoy the movie at all and were complaining after about a half-hour in. I, on the other hand, quite enjoyed it and found myself thinking about it for days afterward.

McDormand continues to show why she is one of the best actors alive. Her performance is seamless and riveting, she was so convincing as a nomad that many people she encountered didn't even know she was acting! I can see why a lot of people won't like this movie, however, it's not like a lot happens in the film. People are used to a movie with an introduction, a solid middle, and some kind of exciting conclusion, this does none of those things. It just gives us a glimpse into the fascinating life of nomad culture and the reality of many people's lives in the midwest after a bad recession in the US in 2011.

The movie ultimately makes you think about lots of things, what would you do if you lost (almost) everything, including your spouse/job/home/town and how would that change your priorities? Would you lose interest in material possessions? What does a home mean? Can you feel at home in your car traveling around? Why are we all tied into the idea of owning a house/car/property/items to be happy? The movie doesn't give any answers and wisely leaves it up to you to decide.

Final Thoughts:

There are moments in the movie where you think things will go badly for Fern (McDormand) but it doesn't happen. She is lucky at times and learns how to survive on her own (with the help of other people just trying to make it on the road as well). It is a fascinating study of how people can eschew the tradional way of life and find happiness in their own way. Fern is such an untraditional person and McDormand is amazing in her portrayal. The movie is also very different than almost anything else you've seen, so if you can embrace that you'll enjoy it, otherwise it's not for you. This was my type of movie and I give it a solid 8 out of 10, mostly due to McDormand whom I always enjoy. As usual please don't let your kids watch this, due to brief nudity and some mature themes I would say 17+.