Spare and lonesome, Nomadland follows Fern (Frances McDormand) while she navigates her new life after the loss of her husband and her community. Based on the Jessica Bruder book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, the film offers a documentary-esque peek into life on the road, deftly handled by director Chloé Zhao.
After the twin tragedies of her husband’s death and the erasure of her town, Fern dedicates herself to staying untethered. She packs up her rickety van with a handful of valuables — the plates her father gave her as a high school graduation present; a stack of handmade potholders — and heads off.
Along the way, she encounters other sun-beaten nomads, including some played by actual van-lifers. She collects tokens of advice from each colorful character as she makes her way across the country. McDormand’s performance is exactly what you would expect from the Oscar winner: honest, vulnerable, and, at times, uncomfortable to look at straight-on.
More than anything, this film serves as an unflinching portal into a way of life unfamiliar to most. There is no room for backstory. Instead, sweeping vistas of the American countryside serve as emotional moments while relationships Fern makes disappear without comment in the rearview mirror.
You can stream the film now on Hulu.
Image courtesy of Nomadland's official trailer by Searchlight Pictures on YouTube
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Sylvie Baggett is in constant search of the perfect sour candy, as well as a 2019 graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design where she majored in Writing and double-minored in Creative Writing and Fashion Journalism. Lately, she spends her time taking long walks through the woods accompanied by her feline companion, Bruce. Follow her on Instagram at sylvie_baggett.