Run time: 107 mins
And to think, Three Billboards was surely Francis McDormand’s crowning performance. Nomadland sees the veteran actor wander the landscapes of midwest America, and it profoundly moving.
McDormand is Fern – another outsider role in which she immerses herself completely, earning her third Oscar. Recently widowed and cash-strapped, Fern decides to leave her longtime home town of Empire, Nevada following factory closures, and strike out on her own. Fern packs her life into a vehicle and heads off into an uncertain future.
Adapted from a non-fiction book, Nomadland is about a generation whose economic future was shattered by the 2008 crash. These people are reduced to poverty, who can’t afford to retire but can’t afford to work while maintaining a home. So they have become nomads – a sort of tribe – roaming the country in camper vans in which they sleep, looking for seasonal work in bars, restaurants and – in this film – a gigantic Amazon warehouse.
Chloe Zhao is a filmmaker at once meticulous and soulful; unhurried, less a storyteller, more a compassionate collector of fleeting interactions and moments of solitude that coalesce into something truly special. (Jack Whiting)