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Wondy

Nomadland (2020)

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Holy hell someone talk to me about this. 
 

Modern Day Grapes of Wrath. 
 

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Nomadland is a film of grace and dignity. I think that's all that needs to be said. A+

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I was basically tearing up the whole way through. Those stories had to be real right? Maybe it's just me as someone who interacts with a lot of homeless people and hospice patients, and recently lost a close family member too soon, but each story came across as so real and emotional for me, and I lost it crying at the end. Of course beautifully shot and edited too. I'm interested if other people had such an emotional reaction or this was just the perfect movie at the perfect time for me.

 

Edited by Nerfy
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Writer-editor-director Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland may seem like just a small, quiet film, but in that smallness and quietness, Zhao finds a sense of power that speaks multitudes. With an intimate, documentary-like approach to mingling the film’s fictional elements and professional actors with the lived experiences of non-actors, Zhao crafts a film that never feels less than real and authentic, and it’s so sensitive and empathetic toward the people it depicts that I found myself tilting my head and nodding along to many of the conversations in the film – and even getting a little misty-eyed during a few. The film works equally well as a loose, unhurried slice-of-life study of the culture of senior citizens living out of vans and as a focused and gut-wrenching examination of heartbreak and healing for its fictional protagonist, Fern. When depicting the reality of the culture in which the narrative is immersed, Zhao succeeds finds beauty, hope, sadness, and resilience at different turns in exploring the lives of the various characters in the film, and she gives each varying emotional experience the proper room to breathe and wash over the audience. And whenever Zhao turns her attention to the more deliberately crafted narrative surrounding Frances McDormand’s Fern, she succeeds just as fully in giving us a well-realized protagonist whose joys and struggles feel vivid. Though much of this film should (rightly) be regarded as a triumph for Zhao, McDormand also deserves all the acclaim she has received for her work in front of the camera. McDormand immerses herself into the role most convincingly and uses subtle mannerisms brilliantly in the service of defining and developing Fern even in moments of quiet or minimal dialogue. It’s a far cry from the louder nature of her two prior Oscar-winning performances, but it’s such a moving performance that it belongs in the same tier as those other lauded performances. As one of the only other recognizable actors onscreen, David Strathairn is also moving and, at times, quietly heartbreaking as a fellow nomad who takes a shine to Fern; like McDormand, Strathairn is totally convincing and works well within the quieter moments. Though much of the cast consists of non-actors, Zhao’s work with them makes their performances feel like those of seasoned pros, carrying the film into paradoxical territory where people speaking to at least some semblance of truth about their lives (or, to borrow shamelessly from Tim O’Brien, a sort-of “story truth”) does not stick out like a sore thumb within the film’s fictional narrative. The film also benefits from gorgeous cinematography that finds the beauty amid harsh and desolate landscapes and captures the look and feel of its subjects’ surroundings and lifestyles in a way that doesn’t romanticize them to a hyperbolic degree, yet still allows us to see why these characters take pride in their hard-fought existence. Some other viewers have hailed the film as something of a cinematic spiritual successor to John Steinbeck’s literature about migratory workers of the Dust Bowl era, and this comparison feels earned. Based on what we see here, it is not a stretch to say that Zhao is as gifted on a cinematic front as Steinbeck was on a literary front with such a moving and sensitive depiction of the hard but quietly beautiful lives of her subjects. Her work lives up to the hype preceding it, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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This was mesmerizing and impactful. It's not often a movie comes along that is this full of life. Chloe Zhao immerses us in a raw depiction of the nomad culture that is refreshingly devoid of judgement, and the use of non-actor real-life nomads also works perfectly in creating an authentic portrait. Frances McDormand reaffirms her status as one of the very best actresses of today by completely disappearing into the role of Fern: it's a tender, lived-in performance that almost makes us believe she could be one of the actual nomads featured within the movie. Beautiful cinematography (that would've looked great to experience on a movie screen). I can't wait to see what Zhao brings to Marvel's Eternals, whenever we get the chance to finally see it. A

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