MovieChat Forums > Nomadland (2020) Discussion > Nomadland: Pros and Cons

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

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And eventually comes something I was waiting for: the van she drives for hundreds of miles ...breaks down. And money becomes a serious issue.

Nomadland invariably busies itself on how to survive in this "utopia"....showers? defecation? food? freezing temperatures? Money(an RV park quotes Frances a monthly rental of $375...you can't live ENTIRELY off the land.)

Social security benefits enter in to the story and we realize that a lot of these nomads are...older people, done with earning a big living and somehow not able to retire. (The nomad population that we see is rather white, as I recall, not sure what to make of that.)

But occasionally a "shock on the road" appears: young families with young children among the nomads. One lone teenage boy, all by himself. One gets the feeling that you shouldn't be a nomad when you are too young...it is a killing lifestyle better for finishing out one's life.

The "socio-political" aspects of Nomadland(in which everybody is pretty nice to everybody else; I liked that) yield to the cinematic poetry of vistas of American desert and mountains(and eventually redwood trees and coast)...it is a movie of stark beauty with a moving musical score..THAT's not documentary style. This is also a major plus of the movie.

Funny bit: in a near-empty, depressed and depressing desert town..Frances stands by a battered movie marquee: The Avengers. One realizes that the billion-dollar MCU sometimes visits very poor and desolate pockets of America.

Food for thought: This was filmed before COVID. One figures that these nomads would survive COVID well. They are outdoors and distanced most of the time.

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" monthly rental of $375"

You've got to be shitting me!
thats about $11 per night , which is great for one night , but if there for months you'd get some kind of bulk deal?
you could pay a mortgage on a small apartment with that kind of money!

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When is a small apartment eligible for purchase? In my experience, you rent it, over and over again and have to keep up with inflation (somehow). I guess there are condominiums, but I don't think you can purchase them for $375/mo.

But I don't know everything.

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FOUND THIS which apparently also indicates the $375 /mo rate is pretty cheap in comparison to what they charge in the LA area:

Ask the customer service rep at the front desk about their monthly RV space rental rates, which you may find are surprisingly affordable considering nightly costs of $75+ at some of the fancier campgrounds. Monthly rates might start around $400 or $500 at a modest destination, or climb as high as $1,000 or more in a trendy locale like Los Angeles.


Long Term RV Parks: Tips for Monthly Long ... - RV Rentals

rvshare.com/blog/long-term-rv-parks/

Imagine paying $30,000 per year just to rent a RV space when all you make is MIN wage which is about $15,000 per year.

And Paying $500 or $15,000 per yr on an income of $15,000 per yr doesn't make things any easier for a person making a min wage.

And CONGRESS still hasn't done anything to pass a bill to INCREASE that inadequate amount that people are being paid.

🙄


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It wasn't my kind of film at all but I found that I quite enjoyed it

McDormand was excellent, those gross bathroom scenes would not be taken on by an actress of lesser caliber and I admire her courage in taking on a roll where she was WAY less than glamorous and dolled up
I too noticed the scenes where she worked at Amazon and it seemed like a great time...

Overall a very good movie and somewhat sad

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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.


I'm confused. You say using her power "to illuminate the struggles of people" who have none is a good thing, yet you still find doing so to be a little bit CONDESCENDING???

And you also say:

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.)

So is your complaint that you'd rather watch a film about PSYCHOPATHS that CHOP UP DEAD BODIES inside of a WOOD CHIPPER (like in FARGO) than watch something with people who are not CRIMINALS???

Because wasn't the character Frances portrays in FARGO also what one could call TRITE??? Remember the way she was also about 9 MONTHS PREGANT and how her husband creates illustrations for postage stamps??? In other words, wasn't her home life also kind of on the PREDICTABLE side as well???

I'm also still looking forward to a 3 BILLBOARDS SEQUEL where Frances and her other PAL find the person who murdered her daughter and then chop their body up inside a wood chipper.

😉


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