REVIEW: Nomadland

If you search for this movie online, you will find that it has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, and 86% of Google users liked the movie. However, I would be in the minority of people who definitely did not find it to be a good movie. While it had some elements and beauty that I enjoyed, I finished the movie thinking, “What the heck just happened?”. Even though there were some points that I found meaningful, I struggled to find meaning or have interest in the movie as a whole.

The film follows Fern, a woman who leaves home to travel around the US in a van. The movie had no plot or arc at all, not even a character arc for Fern, and I kept wondering where the movie was going, even in the last 15 minutes or so. It felt like the audience was just accompanying Fern on her journey, and that there was no resolution or storyline at all, which kept me in a constant state of confusion and anticipation the entire time. I would have preferred for there to be any kind of plot, or at least a resolution at the end for Fern, but there was none that I could see in my viewing. I kept thinking that Fern was going to find some kind of peace or change in her life, but she just kept plodding along, driving in her van and working wherever she was able.

The movie did have some elements that I enjoyed. Most of the scenery she surveyed was absolutely gorgeous, especially in Arizona, with views of the deserts and mountains that I had never seen before. I could certainly appreciate the mastery in some of the shots of the landscape. I also thought some of the relationships that Fern had with others she met on the road felt very real and tangible. The dialogue, for the most part, felt almost unscripted, and sometimes made the movie seem more like a documentary than a film. The people that she encountered were eccentric and engaging, and had their own stories to tell that were sometimes heart-wrenching. I wish they had focused more on all of the people Fern met, rather than on Fern’s journey, which felt very dull at points.

Overall, I would not recommend this movie to others, because it did not follow a moving, compelling storyline, and was very mundane. While I found the lives of the people Fern met to be intriguing, the focus on Fern’s day-to-day activities was not enough to keep my interest or make me excited to see what came next. I can appreciate that this movie was displaying what it is like to live so uneventfully and simply, but I think it came across as just plain boring.

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