Nomadland (2021) movie review
Nomadland is a drama from Chloe Zhao based on the book by Jessica Bruder. The film stars Francis McDormand as Fern, a woman who loses her job and home in the Great Recession and decides to trek out across America (or the West at least) in a van as a modern-day nomad. Nomadland has received overwhelming critical since its festival run last year and has racked up so many awards that it is the likely frontrunner for the upcoming Academy Award race. This is most recently thrust forward by its wins for Best Director and Best Picture, Drama, at the Golden Globes just a few days ago.
Look, there’s no real way to get around this. I did not like this movie. I should say ‘We’ didn’t like this movie, but Rachel cared for it so little that the discussion of who should review this didn’t even occur. Now I would love to come up with some fancy words to explain exactly who this movie is for, but I just found it really boring. So if you wish a documentary could win Best Picture, this movie is the one for you! So let’s talk about “boring” in the context of justifying using it in a review, shall we?
For starters, I didn’t find this story very interesting. A woman loses her job and becomes a nomad. That’s fine. I own a movie about a bus driver. That’s the plot. It’s Adam Driver and he’s a bus driver. But this- ugh, it just strings along the story as an excuse to capture the life of a modern nomad in the Western US. Great. Save it for the documentary! And I know I know, that’s what this film is trying to be, some hybrid of a movie capturing real life by using real people- well guess what? If you go to real people and you point a camera at them and ask questions, you’ve made a documentary! (Okay it’s not that simple, but you get the point.)
For me the conflict comes when the film approaches its mid-point and quickly shoehorns a character arc in. If character development had been at the forefront of the first half of the movie, I dare say I would have actually liked Nomadland! But the sudden (and convenient) shift from docudrama to just drama was really poorly handled if you ask me. And you must be asking me if you are here, because everyone else loves this one. Okay okay, that said it didn’t feel that long, because it isn’t. One of the nicer things I can say about Nomadland is that it kinda flew by. So if you put it on just to get ahead of the Oscars, yeah drink some coffee and it’ll be a brisk watch.
Sorry my phone got a tornado warning and I freaked out. It was a test. Not cool Kansas. Not cool. Anyway where was I?
Ah yeah, Nomadland. It’s not terrible. The music was pretty solid, the performances were- fine? Francis McDormand was good, not great. But she’s also given a very subtle role without heavy emotional acting, so maybe she is great because real like isn’t always Oscar-y emotional? Yeah this one is a toss-up, but if you want to head me talk about that a little more, every week I do a video over at Production Meetings where we discuss news and the latest movies/Disney+ series! I’ll leave a link below so you can check it out! Did I just plug a review IN a review because I didn’t want to talk about Nomadland anymore? Yeah, you know I kinda did…
Anyway, it’s fine. Nomadland is definitely what it wants to be, a slice of real life captured in a drama. If that’s your thing, you knock yourself out. As my friend Matt pointed out in that video I said you should watch, I certainly don’t have the life experience to relate to this film. If that a flaw on the film? Ah kinda. If you don’t play baseball you can watch a baseball movie and not care. But every now and then a really good baseball movie comes out that people love anyway. Nomadland is not that. So here’s a fair 5/10 hoping that it doesn’t win Best Picture and become one of my least favorite Best Picture winners.
So Nomadland? Did you see it? What did you think? And what film do you think deserves to win Best Picture this year? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, leave a comment and let us know in the comments what we should talk about next!
-review by Ryan Prince