A film crew and two professional actors travelled four months through the vast landscapes of the American West to make this gentle film, recording the lives of real-life nomads who tell their stories in their own words.
Frances Mc Dormand (Fargo.Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri) is well-known for her portrayal of unusual quirky characters. In this standout performance as Fern, she immerses herself in nomad culture, becoming indistinguishable from the real nomads. David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck. Lincoln) as David plays her friend.
During the recession of 2008 in Empire, a so-called company town in Nevada, the company, United States Gypsum Corporation, shut down its operation after 88 years. The locals lost their jobs and the town became deserted – it was even taken off the post office zip code.
Newly widowed, 60-something Fern has no reason to stay in the town. She makes a camper van her place to live and leaves town to immerse herself in the culture of like-minded people travelling to seasonal jobs. Despite her warm, considerate personality, Fern likes keeping to herself, not wanting to make commitments beyond casual friendships.
It is a life of simple pleasures shared with others who choose this way of living, and the story of many Americans who through choice or necessity move independently around the country for many reasons – perhaps a limited income, the desire to reconnect with country, or the enjoyment of bartering and making do with what is available.
In the freedom of the open road friendships are forged – personal hardships, loneliness, flat tyres and frustrations shared. Hundreds attend an annual event called Rubber Tramp Rendezvous where they gather in the desert to take part in community activities, share tips, tools and food, and listen to Bob Wells (who has 450,000 subscribers on a YouTube channel) who advises and educates members on how to live a nomadic life. His advice is to “Never say goodbye. Say see you down the road”.
This is the third feature film from director, writer and co-producer Chloe Zhao (The Rider). It is loosely adapted from a non-fiction book by Jessica Bruder called Nomadland. Surviving America in the 21stCentury. It was optioned for the film by McDormand.
The beauty of the landscapes is captured by cinemaphotographer Joshua James Richards and the wonderful musical score is by renowned Italian pianist/composer Ludovics Einaud.
Nomadland was an award winner at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, showcasing one of the best performances of one of the best character actors in film today. It is one of the best movies of 2020.
Now showing at Luna Leederville, Luna Outdoor, Luna SX and Windsor Cinema.
Watch the trailer…