Oscar winner Nomadland movie review: A masterpiece that travels between loss, pain, elegy & hope

Oscar winner Nomadland movie review

What: The winner of best picture, best Director for Chloe Zhao and Best Actress for Frances McDormand at the 93rd (2021) Oscars is a phenomenal movie experience.

Nomadland movie synopsis

Recession has hit the world its circa 2011. Fern (Frances McDormand) has lost her job in the US Gypsum plant in Empire, Nevada. Her husband is no more.

Fern sells her belongings and embarks on a journey moving from from place to place in her white Ford van. The van becomes her home as she picks odd jobs like the one at Amazon warehouse – where we see her in the opening scenes. Fern starts living a nomadic life moving across the American West wherever there is work. Fern finds companions with like-minded Swankie and Linda May and develops a special bond with Dave (David Straithairn) at a desert rendezvous in Arizona organized by Bob Wells, which gives Fern a new meaning to life, death, survival, the human nature and the divine nature that gives us everything.

Nomadland movie review

After Chuck Palahniuk in Fight Club -  “The things you own end up owning you”.

This one by Frances McDormand as fern enters the list of one of my all-time favourite quotes - I am not homeless, am houseless.

Nomadland is not just a poetic, beautiful & melancholic road movie, the masterpiece that travels between loss, pain, elegy & hope deserved every award that it has won - best picture at Oscars, Golden Globe, Golden Lion at Venice and other prestigious awards.

Chloe Zhao, the Chinese-born director in her third movie (The brilliant - Songs My Brothers Taught Me – 2015 and the exceptional 2017 movie The Rider – 2017)  

Has made remarkable inroads in the Oscar tradition broken by Katherine Bigelow in her 2009's masterpiece The Hurt Locker with this pure honest portrayal of the restlessness of human nature & the divine nature and the great healing power of music & humanity, the loss, gains and the gains in those losses – all in one in Nomadland.

Chloe Zhao’s passion for western, the classic cowboy, nomadic life is explored here as well in this adaptation of Jessica Bruder’s best seller - Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century.

Chloe Zhao tracks the desire, hope and survival instincts of these Americans traveling the country in vans searching for jobs and going through identity crises.

In a remarkable cinematic achievement Zhao uses non-actors like real life nomads like Charlene Swankie and vandwellers like Bob Wells to add maximum realism to Noamdland.

This reminds of the sensational Lebanese 2019 Oscar nominee for best for foreign language Capernaum by Nadine Labaki that featured Rafeea, a non-professional actor and Syrian refugee as the protagonist.    

With Frances McDormand (the 63-year-old two-time Oscar winner for Fargo and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) coming in as the main protagonist where she immerses herself completely as Fern and after a while it seems she is not acting anymore, she is living the character to the fullest.

Cinematographer Joshua James Richards vividly & passionately captures the pain, suffering, joy and hope of these nomads at the Badlands of the West to the shores of the Pacific and takes the viewers along in this enriching human journey.

Dave (David Strathairn), another nomad who develops a beautiful sweet bond with fern deserves every praise for giving Nomadland an added layer of human understanding.

Through the journey Chloe Zhao masterly twines - the concept of house and home, loneliness and togetherness, the journey outside, the journey within, life, death and more.

The sequence at Dave's family and Fern's sister Dolly (Melissa Smith) house speak more than they show.

The moment when Fern floats naked in a creek and finds herself immersed in complete peace metaphors the complete immersion of the entire scenario in a free-spirited nomadic life. Life that never says that final good bye – it says here's no final goodbye like Bob says “I don't ever say a final goodbye. I always just say, "I'll see you down the road”.

Ludovico Einaudi’s soothing music feels gives the movie a meditative feel throughout.

Final words

Nomadland is not just a movie, this modern American classic is an enriching cinematic experience that should be in your bucket list asap before we meet down the road one day.


About Filmi Ilmi

Filmi Ilmi

A a vagabond, seeker, explorer, writer, movie critic, doesn't believe in destination just enjoys the journey post on FB/cineblues/ More By Filmi Ilmi

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