Nomadland ★★★

“Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.”
-Daddy Nolan

Roughly around halfway through 2020, shortly after I finished watching Tenet (which was at the time my most anticipated movie of the year) I started hearing whispers in the wind about this indie film about Frances McDormand being homeless. As the whispers soon grew into very deep grunts, my hopes of this indie darling award season wet dream to finally fall into my grubby unsanitized fingers came true. Now after having watched it, I feel more conflicted and confused than I did after seeing Tenet

Now obviously my confusion doesn’t stem from any narrative intricacies, because there essentially is no conventional narrative to hold on to. That isn’t a bad thing, it just usually means the film is supposed to be “felt, appreciated, and absorbed” more than “entertain.” My confusion centers around what I was supposed to get out of Nomadland. Personally for me, there wasn’t much I felt, appreciated or absorbed about the film besides McDormand’s performance. If I’m being blatantly honest, this feels like a documentary my film professor would assign and I’d pretend to like in an attempt to convince everyone else I appreciate “cinema.” 

I completely understand that this film’s “selling point” is it’s atmosphere. One composed of vast and desolate stillness, shaded orange sunrises, a subdued but carefully resolute score, and compact interpersonal camera work. While I can appreciate all of this, it just didn’t leave me feeling anything at all besides (and I hate using this word) boredom. I see a lot of other people praising it’s realness, it’s rawness, but I don’t think that should get priority over story, emotional impact, or memorability. At what point is a film’s hyper realistic and uncompromisingly bland narrative viewed as a crutch rather than a aspect to praise?

I think at the end of the day Nomadland isn’t a film I could really form an emotional connection with. In some instances emotional resonance isn’t as big a factor in my enjoyment but Nomadland put all of it’s eggs in one basket and then they were promptly ran over by a semi truck.

6.8 / 10

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