Nomadland: Pros and Cons
For what it is worth, I have a couple of criticisms of "Nomadland":
ONE: The "documentary" part -- as real Nomads tell their stories and we learn about exactly how this existence operates....is mixed in with a "fictional drama" for Frances to emote in, along with that very respectable and gentle actor David Strathairn(the only other recognizable "pro" in the cast). The documentary part is exemplary, but the fictional drama part is a bit too predictable and pat -- borderline trite -- and beneath the quality of the drama in Frances' other Oscar winners(Fargo and Three Billboards.) I get why, I think: "Nomadland" shouldn't be expected to support a densely plotted "movie story" -- the documentary part is meant to dominate.
TWO: Frances is very good in this, truly the "star" who makes the tale navigable, but in scenes in which she interacts with the "real poor people" with empathy and compassion, I couldn't help thinking "This woman has been married to a Coen Brother for decades; they have to be worth upwards of 50 million." It is the actor's craft to portray all classes of life, and Frances played middle to working class in Fargo and Three Billboards -- but HERE, sharing scenes with real people who aren't doing so well, well, it felt a little bit condescending to watch. And yet: how could Frances avoid this? She here uses her Hollywood power to illuminate the struggles of people well below her wealth, and that's a good thing.
Those two elements above held me back a bit from "going" with Nomadland, but overall, it is a moving and unique experience, and of course it centers one on the following idea: "Could I do this? Cut to the chase: the movie asks "could I live in a van all the time?" and reminds us that crucial issues on a daily basis are: (1) Going to the bathroom(both ways) and (2) Getting a shower or bath.
The truth of the matter is -- you don't really need to shower or bathe every day. The movie suggests that RV parks and campgrounds have shower facilities.
As for matters of the restroom -- you're in the great outdoors, but the story focusses on the need to "take care of your own s'--t"(one character literally teaches the others HOW, using this very line) and the emphasis is on using a bucket and tending to disposal of the contents. Our Best Actress nominee indeed enacts such a scene. I don't remember Kate Hepburn doing that.
My take: if you had to take care of your own s--t on a daily basis, you would get used to it, and closer to your "essence." I guess.
There's a very good scene in which Frances -- as part of the temporary, short-term, itijerant work she seeks on the road -- works in a giant Amazon packing and mailing facility, and you are reminded how much of the American population depends on this level of dull, rote work for a living. (Frances' houselessness begins when the gypsum plant that her late husband and she worked in for years closed and closed the company town of Empire, Nevada with it.)
What's good about the Amazon scene(filmed with their permission and thus "positive" about the company) is that we are reminded that human beings will seek work and work...if there IS work. But alas, that job ends(it was Xmas seasonal; Amazon paid for Frances' van parking for that time) and Frances must find another....in another town, for there is no more work here. CONT