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••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - Film Review

Directed by Chloé Zhao
Starring Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May
• Sam North review
Beautiful, sad insight into real America


Sitting alone in a cinema watching Nomadland today (whilst next door showing Peter Rabbit 2 was jammed full) I was reminded of what a pleasure it is to watch a big screen and fall into the picture.  That feeling has been much missed and Nomadland is a wonderful essay on the state of USA, the fragility of life for so many blue-collar workers and the stunning beauty of the American landscape.  I can easily see why this movie won three Oscars. It is about human feelings and resilience with a subtle sensibility.  

France McDormand Frances McDormand’s character Fern, is widowed, the company town she worked in for decades closed down and turfed everyone out. Now she is homeless, without resources living in a van.  She drifts from camp site to camp site, picking up seasonal work where she can and some might call this freedom but woe betide anyone living on the road when your van breaks down, or you get ill.

She is alone, adrift, but discovers there is a community of people just like her out there, that meet up down the road, swap stories, form strong emotional bonds but each one of them is an island in the ocean, always seeking a new horizon, their worldly possessions on their back or at least the back of the van.  You might not want to do seasonal work at Amazon, or at some tourist venue on minimum wage and one can only feel for those thousands of nomads unable to work during this last Covid year. So many must have struggled or given up.  Nomadland provides an intimate glimpse of the real America.  Frontier people. Hardy, resourceful, romantic and sometimes slightly broken.

Don’t go see this expecting to see action or much of a plot, a road story doesn’t need a plot, it’s endless until you reach the coast then you just turn around.  A beautiful film. I once spent six months driving through France and Italy living in a tiny van with just a mattress stuck in the back. I understand the lure of the open air, the incredible freedom and the importance of clean mountain streams.

Don’t watch on TV; see it on a big screen now.

Sam North – Editor at Hackwriters 5.25.21
author of Another Place to Die: Endtime Chronicles + Magenta

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