Nomadland

Nomadland
Running time:108 minutes
Director:ChloƩ Zhao
Release:Cinema
Release date:19 february 2021
Rating:

Nicole's Review

Nomadland definitely takes us on a journey into the heart of America and a cultural and socioeconomic phenomenon akin to a modern-day Grapes of Wrath amidst the Great Depression, and our modern-day Great Recession. We follow the journey of Fern, played by Frances McDormand, who lost her home, her job, her husband and her town (which closed along with the Gypsum mine that had been its life blood). Forced to find seasonal work and live in her van, Fern discovers others like herself. Some dispossessed by loss of jobs, others desirous of freedom over the bondage of home ownership, and many with nowhere else to go--this group of nomadic people formed a community whose members live in RVs and vans while travelling across the country as a group. They offer each other support, guidance and a sense of belonging.

While this is a dramatization of the actual phenomenon, the movie feels a lot like a documentary. In fact many of the characters in the film are either real people playing themselves like Bob Wells--who has sparked a movement of vandwellers--or members of the nomadic community like Swankie who plays a character inspired by her own story.

Set against the backdrop of sprawling middle America--with forests, deserts and the open road--the pacing of the movie is also like that of a novel. We are truly on Fern’s trek, as she navigates not only her new situation but also the emotions that come along with losing one’s place in the world and deciding where to find a new sense of home. At one point, Fern is offered a place to stay by an old neighbor, but she says she is fine--she’s not homeless, just houseless.

Released February 19 in theaters and on Hulu, the film was written and directed by Chlo Zhao and inspired by Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century.

Nomadland
Directed by Chloé Zhao
Produced by Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Chloe Zhao
Screenplay by Chloé Zhao
Based on Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder
Starring Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Charlene Swankie, Bob Wells
Music by Ludovico Einaudi
Cinematography: Joshua James Richards
Edited by Chloé Zhao
Production companies: Highwayman Films, Hear/Say Productions, Cor Cordium Productions
Distributed by Searchlight Pictures
Release date: September 11, 2020 (Venice), February 19, 2021 (United States), April 21, 2021 (France)
Running time: 108 minutes

Seen on February 20nd on Hulu

Nicole's Mark:

Mulder's Review

In only two films, director and screenwriter Chloé Zhao has managed to make herself known to a large audience and, above all, attract the attention of critics and major Hollywood studios. Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015), which had its world premiere at Sundance, and especially The Rider (2017) (Art Cinema Prize for best film of the Directors' Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival (2017), Grand Prize at the Deauville American Film Festival (2017) were a real success and allowed this great writer and director to make a name for herself. Her new film, which she edited, wrote and directed, Nomadland imposes her in the court of the great American directors and especially as a masterpiece carried by the remarkable interpretation of Frances McDormand.

Based on the book Nomadland, Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century (2017) by Jessica Bruder, Nomadland is based on the portrait of a woman, Fern (Frances McDormand) who, following the death of her husband, decides to leave her home and travel the American Wild West while sleeping in her moved van. After also losing her job in human resources at the US Gypsum plant in Empire (Nevada), she survives by alternating many short work assignments (Amazon employee, camp host job, agricultural crops.). This woman shattered by life nevertheless remains dignified and attentive to others, even if a part of her seems to reject the current society, she clings to the little she has and tries to survive by traveling, by meeting people. Nomadland is one of those films that you keep in your memory long after you've seen it because it looks at the reality of American society far from the images shown in American blockbusters praising cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

Chloé Zhao's third film not only reveals a true director's eye on our society but also captures the beauty of the true American landscape. The harshness of life is reflected in its landscapes as beautiful as they are arid in which the key word for many people is to survive on what little they have. Each of its people living on the margins of society in their camper, van or tent are dented. Whether it is the loss of a child, a half or a loved one, these people hold on to the little they have and yet are willing to help their own (meals, sharing of business.). As we go through a global pandemic and have just learned that the United States has passed the 500,000 mark for covid deaths, this film not only paints a superb portrait of a woman (Frances McDormand amply deserves a Golden Globes and an Oscar) but of an America in perdition.

Nomadland fascinates not only by the way it looks at American society, but above all by the superb landscapes that punctuate its narrative. The superb photography of the film signed by Joshua James Richards and a perfect editing by Chloé Zhao make this film totally immerses us in his story. In the same way as in The rider, Chloé Zhao shows a true gift for storytelling and her film deeply marks us and reminds us that we do not all have the same chances to succeed, to make our place. The many inequalities that shape our society find a palpable reflection here.

After winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival on September 11th and the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, Nomadland was streamed on December 4th, 2020 for four weeks and was broadcast by Searchlight Pictures in selected IMAX theatres in the United States on January 29th, 2021, and simultaneously in theatres and digitally on Hulu on February 19th, 2021. Hailed as a true masterpiece, the four Golden Globes nominations he received are well-deserved. Announced for release in France on April 21, 2021.

Nomadland
Directed by Chloé Zhao
Produced by Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Chloe Zhao
Screenplay by Chloé Zhao
Based on Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder
Starring Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Charlene Swankie, Bob Wells
Music by Ludovico Einaudi
Cinematography: Joshua James Richards
Edited by Chloé Zhao
Production companies: Highwayman Films, Hear/Say Productions, Cor Cordium Productions
Distributed by Searchlight Pictures
Release date: September 11, 2020 (Venice), February 19, 2021 (United States), June 9, 2021 (France)
Running time: 108 minutes

Seen on February 22nd 2021 in original version

Mulder's Mark:

Marianne Velma's Review

Forget California and its Hollywood stars. Forget Times Square or even Central Park. Nomadland takes you on a journey to the heart of America. That of the magnificent desert expanses, that of the Badlands Park in South Dakota, that of the ghost towns of Nebraska. In short, an America where nature, as beautiful as it is raw, stretches as far as the eye can see under a sky streaked with pink. 

Don't be mistaken, despite these elegant images captured with magic by Chloé Zhao, Nomadland is not a fairy tale. For in this postcard setting, the young filmmaker films the people left behind by urban America, these men and women brought down by the subprime crisis who have decided to invest in these magnificent, but hostile territories. But they do not make this transhumance on horseback, but on board their van, truck and other motor home, putting down their machines where the small jobs call them. 

To guide us in this journey to the other side of the American dream, the director has chosen Fern (incredible Frances McDormand), a valiant widow for whom this way of life represents a kind of therapy. Behind her sometimes tired features and her strangely sunny smile lies an incredibly strong woman. Never, or almost never, does she seem to suffer this life, which is often precarious and solitary. On the contrary, she has gained a form of freedom that now seems indispensable to her.

Narratively, the script navigates between a poetic naturalism and a social cinema that looks towards the stars. Thus Frances McDormand really worked anonymously on the sites represented in the film. The extras are mostly nomads in real life. However, the filmmaker cultivates a form of "bigger than life" fiction typical of great American literature, turning Fern into a timeless heroine. Needless to say, we can't wait to see how this filmmaker's sensibility will translate into the Marvel universe for her next film The Eternals...

Nomadland
Directed by Chloé Zhao
Produced by Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Chloe Zhao
Screenplay by Chloe Zhao
Based on Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder
Starring Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Charlene Swankie, Bob Wells
Music by Ludovico Einaudi
Cinematography: Joshua James Richards
Edited by Chloé Zhao
Production companies: Highwayman Films, Hear/Say Productions, Cor Cordium Productions
Distributed by Searchlight Pictures
Release date: September 11, 2020 (Venice), February 19, 2021 (United States), June 9, 2021 (France)
Running time: 108 minutes

Seen on June 3, 2021 at the Publicis Champs Elysée

Marianne Velma's Mark: