Director: Chloé Zhao
Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May
Release Date: April 27, 2021
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
Following the economic collapse of a town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and explores an unconventional life in the vast landscape of the American West. Along the way, she forms unbreakable bonds with other nomads in this powerfully moving story of hope and resilience from director Chloé Zhao, based on the book by Jessica Bruder, also starring David Strathairn.
Please Note: Disney/Searchlight provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Nomadland’ accompanies a woman named Fern (McDormand) who after the loss of her husband and the complete economic collapse of her hometown packs up her trusty van and heads out on the open road to experience a new and unconventional way of life. Travelling across the globe and meeting various interesting people along the way, Fern quickly finds herself embracing this unique lifestyle and finding something about it that gives her peace and a sense of belonging that was absent for too long. All while developing powerful bonds with other people living a similar life that begin to change her way of thinking and the manner in which she looks at the world.
Directed, written for the screen and edited by Chloé Zhao (The Rider) and based upon the book by Jessica Bruder respectively, Zhao does a phenomenal job at the helm of ‘Nomadland’ carefully guiding along this moving tale with heart every step of the way. The film also benefits from a well selected cast including Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and David Strathairn (TV’s The Expanse) as well as a collection of real life nomads including Linda May and Swankie, with nearly all providing notable performances in each of their respective roles, especially McDormand who effortlessly steals the show and is nothing short of outstanding in the lead.
‘Nomadland’ is a beautifully crafted and heartfelt exploration of one woman’s journey to find her place in the world after losing almost everything she knew and loved. Embracing an unconventional lifestyle rich with freedom and beauty, it allows her to see the world anew. It offers us a thorough look at both the struggles and rewards that the nomad way of life has to offer and the rich experiences and unique individuals that our lead crosses paths with along the way, each opening up her perspective and giving her a new take on life that she continually embraces and soon finds it difficult to resist. In many ways, it explores a simpler way of living and the kindhearted people within the community that are always quick to offer assistance, trade products and goods or simply bum a smoke from another only to have their kindness rewarded and returned at a later point, yet never done with thought of the reward. It also provides a glimpse at all of the immense beauty and wonder to be found in our world when you’re able to let the mundane aspects of life go and make the time and effort to appreciate everything so many take for granted on a daily basis. It’s a marvelous film that’s as unique and engaging as the lifestyle it explores and I would strongly urge anyone already even the slightest bit intrigued by ‘Nomadland’ to try and find the time to give it a chance whenever possible.
Overall, ‘Nomadland’ is a magnificent piece of cinema that’s as emotionally moving as it visually gorgeous. A unique and powerful film that delves into an unusual way of life for most people and showcases the beauty and wonder that can be found from even the simplest things that many never bother to fully appreciate. Boosted by the passionate guidance of filmmaker Chloé Zhao and a marvelous performance from the talented Frances McDormand, ‘Nomadland’ is a winner in nearly every way and a film not likely to be forgotten soon after watching. ‘Nomadland’ is definitely recommended. It’s a moving and endearing tale of struggle, beauty and one woman’s journey to find her true self and a life that she can enjoy after losing so much. At the very least, it should be worth the price of a rental (or a viewing on Hulu for subscribers) and a couple hours of your time if you’re already even mildly interested in the film.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Nomadland’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks great as a whole and delivers a sharp, smooth and richly detailed presentation from start to finish that never suffers from any unexpected issues or troubles along the way. It holds up impressively even during the various darkly lit and heavily populated moments, never resulting in anything occurring onscreen becoming negatively affected let alone rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that shouldn’t have any trouble satisfying fans of the film as well as first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack offers a crisp, clean and nicely balanced audio presentation throughout with no problems or conflictions within. It may not be an overly aggressive or hard hitting presentation (nor would it be expected to) but it consistently embraces all five available channels in order to send the music, along with a great deal of nature content and weather, bits of crowd chatter and more throughout the various speakers whenever fitting, and never allowing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a highly capable 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that repeatedly delivers in every way required of it and sounds great from start to finish.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Nomadland’ features a few enjoyable extras that fans of the film should appreciate. Included on the release are a couple of ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 3 minutes in length combined), along with the Behind the Scenes Featurette ‘The Forgotten America’ (running approximately 13 minutes) which includes behind the scenes footage, plus interviews/comments with the cast and crew. Also included is the ‘Telluride Q&A with Frances McDormand and Chloé Zhao’ (approximately 15 minutes).