Follows a woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
We all know, life has its way of throwing curveballs, but how we respond to them is the true definition of our character. Do we get stuck in the idea of failing? Do we get lost in the process of wanting things handed to us? or do we stand tall and push forward?
Along this film being to unravel the questions above by starting with another question, Who is Fern? We understand early on her struggles as we see her living in her van, starting a new job at Amazon, never staying in one place, and know that she is trying to make the most of the cards that were dealt to her.
As viewers we understand the idea of what the score within a film can bring, but sometimes we lose sight of how a powerful score can enhance a movie and become the a star itself. Chloe Zhao sets the stage with a slow build and smartly allows the music to tell the story within the silent moments early on in the film.
Next, Zhao challenges the idea of whether we live life the way we were meant to, or we are just going through the motions. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to appreciate things, not possessions but nature, trees, rocks, mountains. I love to be in their presence. As we begin to hear stories from a dying lady, she shares her journey of all the things she had seen, and I want that, I want that at 75 years old to know that I lived.
Our slow-burn style pace will be off-putting to some, but Zhao’s pacing was perfectly done. She wants us to understand what Fern is going through and has to tell us at this pace to appreciate the nature of the battle she is facing.
Speaking of Fern, Frances McDormand is brilliant in this role. Zhao’s writing makes this role a daunting task for McDormand, and she provides these characteristics of Fern that need to be imposed on us, and McDormand knocks it out of the ballpark.
In closing, artistically, this is hands down one of the best films of the year. Chloe Zhao carefully crafted writing, embraces the idea of overcoming obstacles placed in front of you and forcing you to challenge how you look at your life. Zhao’s direction is top-notch and remarkable. The work behind the camera is equally as crucial to this film as the writing. Composer Ludovico Einaudi gives the most stimulating score of the year. The pulse of this film is nothing without it.
Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland is a carefully crafted look at the true meaning of life.