By Antonio Luevanos
Nomadland was written and directed by Chloé Zhao, and stars Frances McDormand as Fern, who is a character that lost everything due to a financial crisis in 2012. Throughout the film, Fern travels across America to find herself, in a sense. Along the way, she meets many new people, and over time she becomes a “Nomad.” To say that this film is impactful is an understatement. The movie centers around people and the importance of finding home and family wherever you can. Above all, Nomadland is a reminder to look around you, the people you have, the little things that matter, and the memories of people that have passed. It’s a reminder to appreciate life and everything it has to offer.
First and foremost, from a filmmaking perspective, the movie is astounding. The cinematography and the score combine to heighten the gorgeous elements of a film that is already so beautiful and moving. The score is enchanting, and although at times the piano can become tiring, or basic, it grounds the emotional scenes, indirect themes, and overall helps to build the character without ever throwing it in your face. Along with this, as a whole, the film doesn’t throw anything in your face. It’s deep and rich with meaning and thematic elements, but never comes off as pretentious or self-indulgent as some films tend to do.
Frances McDormand is excellent as always. She really brings the character to life, and makes the entire universe feel so shockingly real. The film is what people imagine it is like to truly live. The atmosphere is so alive and realistic, and the immersiveness of the film is extremely impressive. You’d think the concept and story would be boring, but the universe Chloé Zhao has built with this is so enchanting. It’s one of the most outright beautiful films I have ever seen, inside and out. Despite everything this film does perfectly, what makes it such a powerhouse is how packed it is with meaning. It’s about people, it’s about loss, it’s about moving on and looking back on the past.
Most significant is the timing that this film came out. 2020 was a horrible year, to put it harshly. Many people went through the worst times of their lives, and all of us had to adapt to a world that was changing for the worst. Nomadland reminds us that everything is important, and even when you lose it all and it seems there is no hope left, you can always find home, you can always find community and people to love. Truly, the best way to describe Nomadland is gorgeous, enchanting, deep and impactful. This is one that everyone should check out.