Nomad Film Director: Chloe Zhao
Nomad Film Cast: Francis MacDormand, David Strathiran, Linda May
Nomadic Film Rating: 3.5 stars
They are “doers” of the “tyranny of the market” who, in the evening of their lives, have gone “out of the pasture”. In its broad sweep of those on the other side of the American dream – those who are moving slowly at night, this is the brief statement by its patron-chief to the most political nomad. The film is more about the personal, about the breakdown, the separation, the distances that bind, and the ones that do so, and about losing and finding oneself in the vastness of life.
Zhao, the writer, director and editor of Nomadland, which is based on a book by the same name, takes a poetic, almost operative, approach to it. As bare as McDormand’s ferns are, he is as small as a city where he travels to the small town of America in his RV, doing odd jobs cleaning the toilets, from the Amazon factory floor to the stones to the fast food kitchen , Intentionally avoiding any close contact, by way of making and leaving.
Oscar’s buzz is already around Macdormand, whose naked face expresses every struggle of the ferns. Apart from him and Straighthair, wasted in a clumsy and unnecessary role, the others in the film themselves are genuinely nomadic, dismissing life in an organized suburb for one on precarious RV wheels. They work in different parts of the country, at different times of the year, at different times – and almost immediately become friends again, singing songs and sharing stories, bonfire under star-lit skies Let’s burn.
It is so easy coming together of uneven pieces, moving away from any kind of friction with the nominal, which takes away from its story. Deaths, family conflicts, hospital emergencies, all occur offscreen. Its characters come from a deep well of pain and reach a deep sense of content, but the film hangs itself in the middle.
Perhaps the film’s greatest accomplishment is to place a woman at the center of this journey of herself, relieving herself in the open, revealing herself in the open, capable of loving, capable of hurting, treading her destiny.