“Home, is it just a word? Or is it something you carry within you?”. That is a quote from the lyrics of Home is a Question Mark, which the character of this film had talked about. Morrissey’s song perfectly represents the journey of nomads in Nomadland, in search of the definition of home. Can an RV be called a home? Or must it be a roofed building? Is home the company of loved ones? Or is it something else, although it cannot be seen, it can be felt? Best Movie Site
Of course, our protagonist, Fern (Frances McDormand), refuses to be called “homeless”. “I’m just houseless. Not the same thing, right?”, He said. Fern chose the nomadic life, living in an RV moving from place to place, one seasonal job to another, after losing everything. Her husband died. Another loss followed, when the USG Corporation as the company where he worked as well as the owner of the Empire city where he lived, went out of business. Apart from work, Fern also lost his stay, because along with the closure of the company, the Empire was also removed from the map.
Nomadland was produced for four months in between the pre-production phase of Eternals, during which director Chloé Zhao, along with McDormand and the crew, also lived nomadically in a van. Even though he has a script (written by Zhao himself based on a non-fiction book of the same name by Jessica Bruder), the process tends to be closely related to the improvisation method, especially regarding what moments to take. What else is the goal if not realism.
And it is realism that is obtained. McDormand has once again proven his capacity, as one of the best performers, for matters of subtlety. His appearance was not “pretend”, but “be (be)”. Small details flow naturally, representing one of the functions of film as a portrait of reality.
There is a scene that I really like, namely when passing a take, the audience is shown Fern, who walks around the field where the nomads stop. The camera moved, sweeping every corner, showing all the activities of the people. Like a short tour, this scene introduces the audience to the daily life of a nomad. McDormand walked on, mostly silent except for greeting greetings, but his body language spoke volumes. Like a guide, his movements seem to direct us to soak up the beauty around him, accompanied by music composed by Ludovico Einaudi (J. Edgar, Mommy, The Father) which sounds soothing.
The scene above is special because it summarizes all the advantages of Nomadland. McDormand’s realist acting, the sensitivity of Zhao’s narrative, to the cinematography of Joshua James Richards (Zhao’s collaborator and lover), represents the director’s visual storytelling method. We can see in The Rider (2017), Zhao likes landscapes. The vast expanse of nature that is like uniting the characters with the universe. The right style to wrap Nomadland, a story about living things as part of nature. Movie Review
Apart from McDormand and David Strathairn (playing David, the man who had a crush on Fern), the majority of the other players were amateurs. A real nomad to be exact. As a result, genuine moments that strengthen emotional impact are created, from Fern’s sweet relationship with Linda (Linda May) as her best friend and mentor in living a nomadic life, to Swankie’s monologue (Swankie), when she recalls past events that made her believe that her life was complete.
I had a chance to come across a question that reads something like, “If it is adapted from a non-fiction book, it also features original nomads, why not make a documentary as well?”. It’s simple, because Zhao has a specific goal (before Zhao was recruited, McDormand intended to play a fictional version of Linda). It’s not just a matter of nomads, but nomads who are still searching. Fern was still wondering, giddy, swaying, “Is this the right way of life?” Documentaries can carry the same thing, but they are “past”, not “present”, not “straight” in front of the audience’s eyes, which makes it easier to create a connection with the character.
One of the things that bothered Fern was a matter of romance. David loved it, and Fern did not, by implication, shut the door to the heart completely. Unfortunately, this point is Nomadland’s weakest point, which strips away the organic nuances of the story, tends to be conventional compared to other parts of the narrative, and is less integrated with the big idea of the film. It didn’t feel quite right, as Fern felt about the concept of “living and settling under the roof.”
Dominating the final third of the plot, this weakness was enough to shake Nomadland’s stability (causing me to fail to win his script at the Oscars later) before finding his footing again through touching and meaningful conclusions about the journey. Regarding life. Nomads do not know “goodbye”. Every time they parted their way, or even when one died, they said “See you down the road”. In fact the meeting did happen again. Either days, weeks, months, years, or maybe in the next life in a different form. Top Movie