Nomadland ★★★★

Nomadland is another remarkable notch from Chloé Zao's humanistic vision in cinema. Zao stays true to her compassionate realism of blending non-fictional and fictional elements through a tale focusing on a central character, Fern, who's a part of the nomad community, and in the mourning of her husband death and a vanished town where she once lived a housing life happily.

There are more than idyllic imageries in Nomadland. Unlike any touristic theme movie that sometimes exploits the beauty of landscape nonchalantly, Zao frames the nature to be unseparated with the struggle of the central character. The camera mostly follows Fern from the side tightly, often projects the wide sky in slightly below angle to create a sense that the universe observes Fern in attentive force.

In the matter of narrative, Nomadland is a conversation about grief but without redemption. So many films implement grief as a source of motive to help the characters reach a climactic healing process, so they can redeem themselves clean from the pain. Whereas Nomadland understands how to honor grief in its raw and matter-of-fact approach.

What makes grief so insufferable is the fact that life in the aspect of time seems so resistant to the outcome. We lost something so internally primal, but outside life keeps moving forward, insusceptibly. The nomadic life seems like an answer that confronts this indifference. To keep moving from place to place is somewhat a way to be aligned with the time, that has been ticking incessantly refusing to acknowledge the tragedy.

And yet the grief is there tagged along as Fern's hitting different roads in uncertainty. Maybe Fern never fully recover from her grief, likewise everyone who has never been the same person since they lost their loved ones. Maybe life is not about reaching a certain destination, it just accommodates us to move and relocate between space and time and become unsure with what it will bring in the next journey, seemingly close to what we have learned in 2020.

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