After losing everything in the recession, Fern (Frances McDormand) embarks on the open road, exploring the vast landscapes of the western United States, joining the many unsettled Americans, also known as “nomads”.
What director and writer, Chloé Zhao does with this film is breathtaking. Not only visually (because the cinematography is absolutely magnificent and I could talk about its natural beauty for days) but emotionally.
The life of a nomad is one of freedom but also one of solitude and contemplation. Although Fern was thrown into this lifestyle, she immediately embraces her connection to the road, nature, and learns to process her grief.
However, when the film shifts its focus to her various connections and come-and-go friendships on the road, the narrative is moving and sentimental. Each person (who are ACTUAL nomads playing versions of themselves) bring a rawness to this naturalistic storytelling. And although the film’s emotion isn’t in your face, it’s subtlety and honesty packs such a heartwrenching wallop.
No one could bring Zhao’s vision of Nomadland to life better than McDormand.
Although quieter than previous roles, McDormand’s performance holds so much power, grit and unwavering courage. The sensitivity and support she shares with the cast of nonprofessional actors is so honest. It elevates her performance even more. McDormand is already one of the more impressive actors of our time, yet this may be her most notable.
Through delicate direction, gorgeous cinematography, and a profound leading performance, Nomadland takes a poetic yet realistic look into a contemporary lifestyle so often tucked away in our country.
And although many may find this journey to be heartbreaking, its hope and faith in a different kind of American Dream is a guiding light in a beautiful narrative.
Final Thoughts: Nomadland is a well crafted, and visually captivating journey that will be a definite front runner in awards season.