Nomadland (2020)

Title:  Nomadland

Year: 2021

Genre:  Drama  |

Runtime: 108 min

Director:   Chloe Zhao

Starring:  Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May



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 features real nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.


Taking place in some of the lesser-known parts of the USA, following a group of nomads with Frances McDormand’s Fern in the lead, this film portrays a new side of the not-so-glamorous homeless community. The film, directed by Chloe Zhao, the director of Marvel’s The Eternals, showcases a woman who tries to adapt to the new reality as a nomad, who lives mostly in vans. It has a small, intimate feeling with these actors. With a documentarian sense, it keeps the focus on for a long time and tries hard to be authentic. It might not be the most fast-paced, action-filled story as this is an examination of the lead character.

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Frances McDormand, who recently seems to have come back with low-budget and independent films, is a strong lead and as the audience follows her through her journey in a different scenery of America, despite the low-key drama it makes up for an entertaining experience.  Fern, the lead character is portrayed as awkward and doesn’t follow the common rules of the group, and is sort of a misfit among these Nomads. The cinematography is hand-held and has a documentarian feeling with shaky images and half-dimmed scenes where the darkness takes over.

The story isn’t straight forward and it’s not easy to follow either. The narrative doesn’t really enchant you as a viewer. Even with a strong performance from McDormand, it doesn’t save the film or makes it worth watching just for fun. It makes a small effort to make it worth follow Fern through western America, living as a modern-day Nomad. Compared to Three Billboards, where McDormand also was a strong Oscar-candidate, it was far more thrilling to follow her character there. In this film, all random things happen and there’s no clear depth to it, even if her exploration is part of the dramatized narrative. The editing is not a strong pursuit in the film, as there are jumpcuts constantly and don’t have convincing touch on it.

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It’s a slow-paced drama, that makes you appreciate what you already have as this film also gives attention to people who have lost their homes or have been forced to live a life as a nomad, not by their choice or by choice.




Grade 2 of 5
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