NOMADLAND – Review

A FILM BY CHLOÉ ZHAO

 

This triple Oscar winner is not your typical road movie. This is the story of a recently widowed 60+ woman called Fern, played by Frances McDormand travelling in a stunning but desolate western backdrop. Thelma and Louise it isn’t, no cops or car chases, and while it has moments that will make you smile it is rather bleak.

It will never be our favourite motorhome road movie for our family that will always be Robin Williams’ RV. While the Robbie Williams film is a road trip full of childish giggles, Nomadland is not. It seems all movies about motorhomes have toilet moments and while Williams’ famous poo emptying scene made us laugh, McDormand leaves us in no doubt about what it is like to use a simple bucket in a small van.

However, just like Robin Williams, Bob Munro, we meet some nice full timers on the road. In the RV movie we meet the full timing Gornicke’s and their stunning red and white bus; while Fern in this film meets and interacts with real life full timers. Notably Linda May and Charlene Swankie. The stories and monologues from these real people are touching and well filmed. I found it poignant, giving us a real look at America’s growing number of new nomads. Frances McDormand is an amazing actress, turn your house heating up when you watch, she is so clever she’ll have you feeling the cold.

This is a marmite movie, It’s a slice of life, devoid of a plot. Some people won’t make it past 20 minutes before reaching for the remote, while it will transfix others to the end who will then want to watch it again.

My Take…Van-Life is sweeping America, living in a van is not a dream, it’s often a necessity. The social safety net seems to have a few more holes than we are used to, and a kitchen table full of unpaid bills, high rents, medical bills and maxed out credit cards, and soon they are living in clapped out vans that never turn a wheel clog city streets. Many cities are now passing laws to move them on.

And the big difference between the US and here is if they want to go wild, they have the space. The vast expanse of the Western states struck me. You could lose yourself for years. Movies like this coupled with an economic downturn will only make the movement grow.

We have our own fast-growing van-life community in the UK. It is going to meet us recreational campers head on one day. But that’s a discussion for another day.

NomadLand.