Nomadland

Nomadland ★★★★★

First and foremost, Nomadland is a scathing commentary on how the United States has extensively failed the working class. Based on Jessica Bruder's non-fiction book, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, it's an excellent adaptation with two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand conveying an outstanding performance as the central protagonist. 

Directed by Chloé Zhao, who also penned the screenplay, it follows Fern undertaking an emotional pilgrimage through the American West after the collapse of the company town where both she and her deceased husband laboured for decades. She loads up her van and sails out to adopt the existence of a modern nomad, picking up odd jobs wherever she comes to berth with the camera marvellously observing her journey through the badlands, living her life outside of conventional society. 

Zhao flawlessly builds the film around McDormand's portrayal of Fern, appreciating the characters inner melancholia and emphasising more information and efficacy through modest tracking shots than any passage of dialogue could typically provide. While some could perceive fern's life as being without purpose and generally directionless, it proves to be an existence which is far from solitary. As she arrives at every place, she discovers herself amongst like-minded companions who have decided to live off the grid, gathering in spontaneous caravan campsites. 

It confidently and successfully hikes the narrow line between narrative film and documentary together with depression and joyousness, primarily because of the scrutiny to detail and the authenticity exhibited through Zhao's lens. It's a film with a peaceful structure, and Ludovico Einaudi's stunningly beautiful score and Joshua James Richards's sentimental cinematography shape a solemn rhythm. 

It accomplishes a tremendous job giving an account of a fictitious narrative with such realistic and unpretentious techniques that reflect it to be comparable to a cinéma vérité documentary. Zhao lets everything develop with slow-burn observational mannerisms with the characters each reverberating with profound compassion and awareness for one another, electing not to speak any more than they have to. The outcome is an expressive analysis of identity and an emotionally devastating piece of filmmaking.

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