REVIEW: ‘Nomadland’


If the phrase “naturistic poetry” was a commonly used phrase, I would first think of the movie “The Revenant,” with this movie being a close second.

“Nomadland” comes to us from the director of 2018’s drama “The Rider,” Chloé Zhao. Starring Frances McDormand, it tells the story of a woman named Fern who loses everything in the Great Recession of 2012. As a result of this, she decides to throw all the little things she has left into her van and become a nomad, traveling all throughout the westside of America. The result of this plot is some of the most creative filmmaking and beautiful cinematography these eyes have seen in quite some time.

You may or may not have heard that McDormand is excellent in this movie. Well, I’m here to tell you that this is 100 percent correct. She does an outstanding job portraying a woman who is trying to find a reason to keep going after losing everything. Her somber-yet-hopeful presence is absolutely mesmerizing here, and one you can feel on an insanely personal level.

There were so many great scenes that made me feel like I was really going through the self-discovering journey with her; one that I plan to travel with her again soon for sure.

The cinematography in this film is also breathtaking, and I’m confident it will win the Oscar for it. As someone who has lived and spent most of his life traveling southeast America, it was very refreshing to see the modern west side so heavily explored here.

There was a beautiful scene where Fern starts to wander into a canyon which felt like a huge metaphor for the film: you may not know where you’re going, but something beautiful may be waiting for you. That scene spoke volumes, with very little dialogue.

Easily the most creative feature this film uses (one of the most creative ones I’ve ever seen), is its utilization of real-life nomads to tell the story rather than employing a grand cast of actors. The nomads you see in this film are not acting. The stories they tell (albeit a little dramaticized), are real and raw. These real nomads offer Fern and the audience a look into what it’s like being someone whose home is on the road, and why exactly they have decided to ditch everything they once knew for this migratory, adventurous life.

With this technique, Zhao has crafted a film that uses a special kind of care, and one that hopefully other directors will experiment with in future films.

Throughout the past couple months I have heard some critics, like my personal favorite, Chris Stuckmann, for example, say things like, “I don’t blame you if you say nothing happens in this film,” and damn do I fully disagree with him this time!

While there are somewhat strangely uncomfortable moments that slow the movie down (like a scene with Fern literally pooping in a bucket inside her little van), it doesn’t make me say nothing happened here.

On the contrary, it’s a cringy moment like this that truly shows what happens when a person literally loses everything in the wake of a financial catastrophe, and the reality of the harsh struggle that ensues. Fern’s journey is one we can all feel and sympathize with, and that is due to the realness of the scenes that all of us can relate to. I mean hey, everybody poops, right?

Overall, I think this movie is purely amazing; so much so that I have a prediction: out of all the great flicks that are up for best picture nominations this year, I predict that “Nomadland” will clinch the win.

Not saying it’s my personal pick (for me, that title belongs to “Minari”), but I still believe that “Nomadland” will win due to the fact that it’s a deeply personal story about human struggle, and trying to find joy in the journey.

“Nomadland” is now playing in select theaters, streaming on Hulu for free, and on Amazon Prime for $14.99.

When you have the time, do not miss this one. It’s definitely worth the watch! Chloé Zhao has crafted a film that speaks volumes to all, and I simply cannot wait to see what she does next.


Jury declares: A