Chloé Zhao’s directorial Nomadland is one of the very few films, which as an Indian when you watch, you realise that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Nomadland has the capabilities to shatter your big American dreams as it shows you a strikingly different world from what you’ve always seen in Hollywood films. It’s not always hunky-dory!
Frances McDormand has probably given the most silent performance of her entire career. She doesn’t talk as much as she emotes through her eyes and body language. The two-time Oscar winner might just end up making this her third Oscar at the upcoming Academy Awards. Not just in her looks, but even in the simplest of things — like her walk — she embodies the life of a woman who has not just lost her beloved husband but has also realised that she is suddenly broke and homeless. One look at her and you are convinced that a world so different from the luxuries that you have, exists. You are made to sit back and appreciate the simple joys of life that you possess, like having friends to talk to and having a family to always be there whenever you need. Frances McDormand’s nuanced performance makes you realise how loneliness cannot only be depressing, but also fatal to one’s well-being. Even without doing much, Frances McDormand has hit the ball out of the park for a home run. Superb!
Chloé Zhao’s screenplay makes sure that the story stays true to its original inspiration and gives you a complete view of what it’s to be lonely and homeless at the same time. Her direction gives you ample chances to feel how boring and restless it would be to be on the road all the time and not have a home. As she has herself edited the film, she could have easily chopped off scenes where Frances McDormand is eating or taking a shit inside her van, but she makes sure to show those fleeting shots to the audiences so as to build a complete picture for them about how it would feel had they been living on the road throughout and not having anyone to share a meal with. Not only has the loneliness been shown, but Chloé Zhao manages to even make you squirm in your seats just shuddering about the thought of living a life this way. Really well-written and brought to life onscreen.
The cinematography by Joshua James Richards is so raw that it actually transports you to the nomad lands. With every shot, you are made to feel more and more like someone who’s not just watching the film unfold, but actually living every minute of it. The numerous usages of the long shots in order to show the emptiness and hollowness of the situations is an absolute masterpiece.
The great part about the music and the background score by Ludovico Einaudi is the confidence with which he leaves scenes untouched and makes you live alongside the central character. Would you believe the first ounce of music comes to the screen after almost 15-minutes of the movie having been started? That’s the level of confidence a music director has to infuse in the movie’s director’s mind so as to be able to leave scenes raw and untouched and thereby create the maximum impact.
The only downside of Nomadland would be that it tends to drag the story a bit. While one could argue that it’s stretched out in order to create that restless feeling inside you as an audience, but there are times when you actually feel like some shots could have been cut out and made the screenplay faster.
On parting shots, I would like to say that Nomadland is already an Oscar-nominee in six categories. So, there is actually no harm in spending some time over the weekend on it. It’s worthier than the other releases.
Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells
Director: Chloe Zhao