Tuesday 31 December 2013

Movie Review: Nebraska

What an intimate portrait of Americana. It is charming. It is engrossing. And I laughed out loud. Oh yes, I laughed because I myself have lived bits and pieces of this story. I recognised the people, the everyday life of a small town. This is anything but life in the fast lane. This is life as seen by the majority of Americans: nothing fancy, nothing big-time here; the day to day struggle to make ends meet and enjoy a cold one in front of the idiot box. The film was quite rightly shot in black and white. It adds to the ambiance.

Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is on a quixotic mission to get his million dollars. He has a scam advertising letter from a publishing company stating he's won the big prize only if his number has come up and in the meantime would he like to subscribe to some magazines? Woody seems to be naively hopeful or demonstrating the first signs of dementia but whatever the case, son number two David (Will Forte) decides to take pop on a road trip to fulfil his request to personally visit the prize office to collect his loot. What entails is a both sad and comedic look at a life in the twilight years, a life wasted with alcohol.

Bruce Dern is 77 years old and he is every bit the part. He's not playing the part; he is the part. What a fabulous performance. Will Forte, best known as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, does a good turn as his dad's foil. The rest of the cast consists of a colourful group of characters that so aptly represents Middle America and any number of people we all have known at one time or another.

Woody and David show up at a relative's house to stay the weekend. It is revealed they haven't visited these people in years. They come into the house and everybody is watching TV. Nobody turns off the TV; nobody stops watches TV. Periodically, one of the people asks a succinct question or gives a succinct answer but for the most part, nobody stops watching the boob tube. I found this hilarious as I've had this happen to me. Thank you for being so overjoyed to see me. Excuse me for interrupting your television viewing pleasure.

I didn't recognise the name of the director Alexander Payne so I looked him up. Ah, this is a man whose work I like: About Schmidt (2002), Sideways (2004), and The Descendants (2011). This is a man who makes films which are small, personal, close-up examinations of the human condition.

Final Word
This is a terrific film. Imagine, the budget is only $12 million but the quality of the final product is stunning. I thoroughly enjoyed this slice of life. It isn't a grand life; it isn't a famous life; it is a small, nondescript, run of the mill life played out across the country in millions of homes. But within that context are many hues: not flamboyant colours but subtle variations of a theme. It is sometimes surprising how the ordinary can be quite fascinating.


Rotten Tomatoes: Nebraska: 92%
Elegant in its simplicity and poetic in its message, Nebraska adds another stirringly resonant chapter to Alexander Payne's remarkable filmography.

Wikipedia: Nebraska (film)
Nebraska is a 2013 American comedy-drama film starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte. It is directed by Alexander Payne. It was released on November 15, 2013. It was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where Bruce Dern won the Best Actor Award.

official movie web site: Nebraska

Nebraska Movie CLIP - A Million Dollars

Nebraska Movie CLIP - Having Kids


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