Alone vs Lonely: Searching for home in “Nomadland”

Dedicated to all who must depart

See you down the road

So many lovely images of light: sunsets, lamps, the golden hour

A film that many in our Pandemic time may find difficult to watch, Chloé
Zhao’s Nomadland is a lyrical look at one woman’s journey. When she loses the trifecta of
husband, home and community, Fern sets out to find a way to be economically
stable and self-sufficient. Along the way, friends and family will reach out to
help and offer assistance. Even a potential love interest, a nice turn by David Stratham, can’t
really connect. No one seems to understand the steps she needs to take to
overcome her grief and move on from her loss.

The film is full of amazing images of Frances McDormand’s face. Often shot
in extreme close-up: silhouetted against the night sky as she sings Christmas
carols to stay awake or gazes out a window or looking toward the horizon. The
cinematography (Joshua James Richards) maps the story across the planes of her face, with no make-up or hair to distract from the reflection of light on her expressions. We meet the
other nomads on her journey and watch this character learn another way of life
and another way of being in this life.

There’s so much beauty and so much pain here. There are lingering shots of
sunsets and sunrises and beautiful interludes among trees and in rivers that
Fern takes the time to experience. She’s left all that she loved behind and
seeks out work in a country with no job security or affordable housing. Fern’s
plight is even worse as an older woman. On the road, by herself and with
limited funds, one car repair constitutes disaster.

There’s a duality at play here. Dressed in linen shifts, the character seems childlike
and vulnerable as she walks thru her abandoned town or carries a lantern to
walk to the restroom at the RV Park. Other times, in her manly work clothes,
smoking a cigarette, McDormand seems strong and tough. It’s a role that asks
much of McDormand. And she delivers. She’s stripped bare both physically and
emotionally, to reveal this woman’s pain and finally, her redemption.

Nomadland is a 2020 American drama film directed by Chloé Zhao, who also wrote, edited, and co-produced. Set to for US release: December 2nd, 2020.

Wonderful piano score by Ludovico Einaudi.

Frances McDormand as Fern in Nomadland

Drinks with Films Rating: 5 cans of Coors Light sipped by the open fire with traveling friends (out of 5)

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