Nomadland Review

Anna De Oliveira – Staff Writer

Nomadland is a film that tells the story of Fern, a woman in her sixties who is mourning the loss of her once seemingly normal life.

It takes place in 2008 during the Great Recession and Fern (played by Frances McDormand) has just lost everything because of it. Nomadland picks up in the middle of her story and as we continue, we learn more about Fern and the life she has lived. 

In the title cards that open the narrative, we learn she once called the small industrial town of Empire, Nevada home. Here, she worked at a gypsum plant and was married. Because of economic fallout, however, the plant shut down and the town fell clear off the map. It doesn’t even have a zip code anymore. In the middle of all this mayhem, we also learn that Fern’s husband (Bo) died of cancer. With nothing else left to show for, Fran decided to buy a van and hit the road in search of work and a new place to call home. 

This movie is littered with incredible cinematography. With Fran spending most of her time driving across the continental US, we can see several shots of all the beauty the American landscape has to offer. 

Also, since Fern no longer holds long-term job, she now works on a seasonal basis. Her first job is at Amazon where she becomes friends with another nomad. They begin to travel and work together, building a strong friendship. Together, they both become part of a bigger group of ‘modern’ nomads who allow her to begin her grieving process. 

Contributed Photo

Nomadland is quite unique in that a majority of the people in the film are not actors, so the stories they tell are real. There is one other actor, David Strathairn, who plays the character of Dave and becomes Ferns’ love interest. 

The film flows freely, which allows viewers to feel as though they are in the passenger seat with Fern. It is an interesting narrative that is told beautifully by the actors and the director Chloe Zhao. Not only did it make me miss travelling, but it confronted me with the reality that our generation gives little thought to how many people die without fulfilling their dreams. 

Another is the reality of being human is our inability to let go of things in our past. Instead of allowing ourselves to grow, we end up tying ourselves down. We have forgotten the importance of grieving properly and this movie serves as a reminder of the importance of such processes. 

Nomadland is an excellent movie. It was made with a lot of love and patience. However, I would issue out a warning that it is a film is not for the faint of heart. It deals with harsh topics and conjures up deep questions about life and its purpose. It was not filmed with a “fairytale” lens, but I would still recommend it if you are someone who enjoys watching films that make you think.

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