What’s so special about Nomadland that made it won OSCAR for Best Picture and got six Oscar nominations, including Best Cinematography for Joshua James Richards and Best Picture, Director, Editor, and Adapted Screenplay?
Being homeless and being just houseless is not the same thing. Fern is 61. She’s a widow. But she hasn’t just lost her husband. She’s lost her way of life. Their town is shut down. So Fern becomes a nomad. She fits her van and gives it the name “Vanguard”. She has a bed, a cooking area, and a small storage space in his van. She takes up small temporary jobs, including one in an Amazon fulfillment center. She drives through the vast American landscape. Sometimes Fern seems dwarfed by the immensity of nature –towering trees, snow-covered plains that stretch as far as the eye can see, thundering seas crashing against rugged rocks.
She is a lone wolf but she isn’t pitiful about it – not even when she’s using a bucket in the van as a toilet. Her resilience is deeply moving. Her dignity and strength made me weep. The beauty of the terrain contrasts with the harshness of life on the road, where a punctured tire in a remote location can mean death. Fern has the choice to live in a house with all the basic facilities. But she walks away, returning to the freedom of the road. Fern is like many of the other van travelers. Without any house and belongings, she goes where her instincts take her. Nomadland stars Frances McDormand acts alongside real-life nomads who were featured in Jessica Burder’s book named Nomads. McDormand is an Oscar-winning, actor but there isn’t a moment throughout the film where we can find her out of sync with the others.
There is a scene in the film in which Fern goes through her things and, she comes across her husband’s jacket. She just spaced out for a moment and then holds it tight, almost as though she’s holding her husband. It’s a small gesture but it tells us about the attachment she is having for her husband. Fern is a fictional character. Swankie, who is a nature lover; Linda May, who is Fern’s best friend and Bob Wells and guru– played by themselves. Zhao recreates the rituals of nomad life. Van dwellers annually collect at the Rubber TrampRendezvous, a gathering in Arizona, led by Wells. They chase seasonal employment.
Their lives are not systematic but they have variety. The main thing is that they have strong relationships which can never be broken. In one scene, which is one of the best scenes of the film, Bob tells Fern that their lifestyle might make connections flimsy but inevitably, their paths will cross again. So there are no final goodbyes. His parting line always is to see you down the road.
Nomadland works at many levels. This film portrays the harsh condition of the market economy and shares the message to live more keenly, to feel more, and have fewer belongings. Fern’s job at Amazon, where she’s packing these goods to ship to customers contracts with scenes of van dwellers simply giving away or trading what they don’t need. Downsizing is a virtue. At last year’s Venice Film Festival, Nomadland won the top prize.
Nomadland was released on 2nd April 2021 in India. Theatrical release in IMAX theatres was on 29 Feb 2021. According to Rotten tomatoes 94% of the 380 critiques gave positive review with an average rating of 8.8/10.
A great film with great visuals. Definitely to be watched in theatres.
The biggest thing is that it has a great story and really good actors who lived their roles.
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