Nomadland: Chloe Zhao’s Meditative Masterpiece


R E V I E W – M O V I E


Takrim Hossain


Nomadland is an independent western drama film directed by acclaimed director, Chloe Zhao, who has previously given us amazing indie cinemas like Songs My Brothers Taught Me and The Rider. But trust me, it is more than safe to say that she has delivered the best work of her career so far in the form of Nomadland

Based on the 2007 book Nomadland : Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, it stars Frances Mcdormand as a widowed ‘Nomad’ who travels across the American west in search for work after losing her job in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis. Mcdormand has also co-produced this film with director Chloe Zhao.

Nomadland is a film largely composed of small incidents, and the principal character, Fern, provides structure to the film. It tells the stories of the Americans who live on the road in their vans and SUVs. For most of them, this wasn’t the life they chose, instead they’ve been forced into it due to economic collapse or personal tragedies. However, they’re making the best of it because that’s what they’ve always done. They maintain their freedom while finding fellowship among their fellow nomads. 

Nomadland has ticked all the right boxes of the acting department. Frances Mcdormand has given one of the quietest and most powerful performances of her career, and is a certain contender for a record third Academy Award as the best actress. She carries almost every moment with her usual swagger and sensitivity, but also knows when to let the other characters take the wheel. Real life nomads were used in the cast, and Chloe Zhao has managed to bring the best out of them as well. One character in particular, Swankie, might just leave you teary-eyed.

As far as the direction of this film goes, Chloe Zhao has done extremely well. She has explored the American landscape with a great purpose, and has handled topics like aging, poverty, unemployment, and life on the road in a limpid manner. And she has officially announced her arrival in the industry with this movie.

Nomadland is filmed magnificently on a technical level. The cinematography is spectacular. The shots are grand but not flashy, giving the viewers a scope to escape the reality in which they are living and experience the beautiful mountains, wide roads and the parks of the American West. The frequent closeup shots of the characters will remind you of Emmanuel Lubezky. The score of the film is thought provoking and bittersweet, which combines really well with the theme of the movie.

The film has surpassed so far in the award ceremonies. It has become the first film ever to win the top prize at both Toronto & Venice film festivals and is certain to bag some Academy Awards in the coming months.

Personally, I would strongly recommend Nomadland. One of the best things about this movie was that I was able to get a peek inside the lives of individuals that live so differently from the way we live. This movie will physically take you places and make you think. It is introspective. Watch it. Watch it for your soul. Watch it to go on a journey to the American West. Watch it to find out why nomads are houseless but not homeless. Watch it to see how it feels to live on the road.

And as they say in the nomad community instead of a goodbye, I’ll see you down the road!  

 


Md. Takrim Hossain is a life-long Liverpool fan & a proud Slytherin who spends the day annoying people talking about Geopolitics and Military history and the night by himself, flipping through the pages of Asterix while listening to Britpop and maybe re-watching a classic David Lynch or a Wong Kar-wai masterpiece.

 

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