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nomadland

★★★★★

director: Chloe Zhao (The Rider)

starring: Frances McDormand, Linda May, Charlene Swankie and David Strathairn

REVIEWER: lyall carter

After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.

You couldn’t get a film that sums up 2020 more perfectly than Nomadland. An event beyond our control completely tips up the order of the world and all that we have known. Then we begin to rebuild. Nomadland is destined to become a classic. Make sure you head out to it. Right now. 

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. 

Nomadland is a drama through and through with a narrative pacing that requires a little patience as we not only plumb the depths of the character of Fern and the supporting nomad characters but all the themes that this tale throws up. But the narrative, thematic and acting pay offs are pure, unadulterated cinematic gold. 

Through the winding road of this story, with all of its challenges, repetition and moments of personal realisation, we find ourselves asking big existential questions. The world we had pre pandemic, is it worth returning to? One that disregards human beings for progress and the ever powerful pull of consumerism? Nomadland has on full display the harrowing and destructive effects that this has on our cultural soul and the people that inhabit the lower rungs of the societal ladder. 

Nomadland features a real smorgasbord of acting talent from the supporting characters, a lot of whom are real life nomads, to the more established actors McDormand and Strathairn. Frances McDormand and David Strathairn have consistently given brilliant performances throughout their careers but these are every award gong worthy, career best performances. Nomadland is not to be missed. 

Nomadland is a cinematic wonder to behold that not only deftly takes a wide variety of issues from consumerism to grief by the scruff of the neck, but brings humanity to the 'forgotten' people of our world.

★★★★★