The movie "Nomadland" is generating a lot of critical praise and is likely to garner a lot of nominations if the Oscars actually happen this year.
This is fitting, as "Nomadland" is exactly the sort of movie Oscars like these days: slow, artful, indie darlings that probably won't connect with mainstream audiences. Part documentary and part silent film, "Nomadland" is a quiet, contemplative movie about a certain sort of people living in America's southwest. What it lacks in narrative it makes up for in, I guess, cinematography.
Available to stream on Hulu, "Nomadland" is really only worthwhile to those who like artsy movies.
Frances McDormand plays Fern, whose husband recently passed away and whose life was uprooted when her Nevada company town closed down due to the recent Great Recession. Fern turns her van into a mini-camper and hits the road, traveling from state-to-state and picking up temporary jobs here and there.
The movie follows a year in Fern's life as she makes friends with other nomads, travels around and deals with her grief in really quiet ways.
"Nomadland" is a movie that requires patience and is the sort of movie you should only watch if you know you have that patience. Living in the northeast, we are about as far removed from the southwest as one can get in this country, so I did not connect with the nomad lifestyle at all.
Apparently people really do live like this, as director Chloe Zhao uses real nomads as supporting characters. And a lot of scenes in the movie are filmed like a documentary, where these real-life nomads talk about their lifestyle to McDormand's character. It's a bit interesting, but nothing that I think demands to be seen.
The movie is not a documentary. It's a story, following Fern, who is a quiet, simple woman who actively chooses this life. She's not particularly charismatic, so following her story is all about connecting with her on a human level. I wish I could say that was easy, but again, you have to have the right mindset.
"Nomadland" neither glorifies or denigrates the nomad lifestyle. It just is, and it's presented plainly onscreen. Perhaps you'll find it educationally interesting. That's mostly all there is to say about "Nomadland".
It's just a quiet, lonely arthouse movie providing a potentially interesting look at the way some fringe people live on the other side of the country.