There are certain low-budget indie movies that come out every year that are absolute must-sees. Its looks like in 2020, Nomadland is 100% that movie. There is something captivating and beautiful about a movie that feels so human and genuine. Nomadland is captivating within the first few minutes because it doesn’t even feel like a movie; It feels like as the viewer, you’re a fly on the wall during an actual person’s life. That is very hard to pull off, so props to director/writer Chloe Zhao for achieving that.
Follows a woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
There is a to love about Nomadland, but the screenplay might be at the top of the list. It explores several themes and life is the main one. How unpredictable it is, how someone can adapt, nothing is guaranteed, and everything is always changing. The writing demonstrates all of these things SO well and that is a big reason why the audience is easily captivated. We follow Fern, a woman who is living out of her van while traveling across the west. There are several scenes in the movie where she is alone and they’re arguably the best ones. You feel so free and so connected to her calm nature as she experiences things. I love how the writing differentiates between a house and a home as well. The pacing of the script is fantastic too. Its easy for a simple movie of this nature to get stale or boring, but that isn’t the case here.
Frances McDormand is Oscar-Worthy in her role of Fern. We’re used to her being very firm, straightforward, and funny in a lot of her roles but in Nomadland, her character whispers her way throughout the film with calm demeanor. It is very impressive how human and authentic she is as Fern. Nomadland utilizes real-life nomads throughout the film and what is impressive is Frances does so well with her acting that she essentially becomes one of them. Halfway through the movie, or maybe even a little sooner, her performance becomes so dazzling that you forget she’s an actress. That, my friends, is next-level talent.
The direction from Chloe Zhao is amazing. Nomadland almost comes off as a documentary mainly because of how realistic it is. The direction feels like a nice balance between specific, poised moments and seeing how a scene unfolds naturally. It just felt like life was happening in front of our eyes and Chloe found beauty in simple things over and over. The way it is shot falls right in line with the vision and feel of the film.
Nomadland is also very relevant because of the world we are living in with the COVID-19 Pandemic. Millions of people are out of work, losing their houses, and struggling. This follows Fern as she goes through some of the same things that people are going through today. This movie deserves to be so on a big screen at some point. Absolute must-see and will win multiple Academy Awards.