Nomadland ★★★★★

Chloe Zhao has got it. I am loving this crop of directors that are putting one, maybe two professional actors in their films, then filling out the cast with non-actors that can’t help but be authentic and real. Sean Baker’s Tangerine and Florida Project, Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats and Never Rarely Sometimes Always, and Chloe Zhao’s The Rider and now Nomadland.

You find actors like Willem Dafoe (Bobby in Florida Project) and Frances McDormand (Fern in Nomadland) that are incredibly talented, but also empathetic and giving performers. Some of the most moving scenes in Nomadland are just intimate conversations about trauma, and for a large chunk of the film, Fern isn’t ready to share her story. She listens, though, really listens, and she gains strength from the strength other characters have summoned to keep going on. 

Chloe Zhao’s direction is just as patient and potent as it was in The Rider. The cinematography is stunning, and so are the stories. Zhao is not there to pass judgment, she’s there to document. Frances McDormand isn’t there to carry the film, she’s there to help carry the weight. 

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