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TIFF 2020: “Nomadland”


Rating: 4 out of 5.

One of the best descriptions of being a nomad is a wanderer. A person who does not set boundaries for himself – he or she goes beyond it. Why have one place called home when there’s opportunity to be living in every part of the country. That does not mean you have to drop everything, quit your job, retire early and begin traveling. It is just a distant possibility for one and a chance of a new journey for someone else.

Based on Jessica Bruder’s book and adapted onto the screen by writer/director Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” follows an ordinary woman (Frances McDormand) in her sixties who, after the Great Depression, leaves her ordinary life behind by embarking herself on an unforgettable journey through the American West. She has a van where she sleeps. The van, which she nicknamed ‘Vanguard’ as her only witness and companion through the precious moments her eyes witness.

Fern, as a modern nomad, must endure herself into the unknown. She must learn how to fix a flat tire, work at an amazon factory to package orders, prepare food at a bistro and so on. Throughout her journey, she meets many interesting people, discussing the possibilities of life and death, opportunities that came for one and left for others. The film gives an interesting perspective of a road trip about someone who could have a family but instead leaves to taste the multilayered lifestyle.

Shot almost like a documentary, Chloé Zhao follows an exhausted Fern, while capturing the beauty of abandoned America that’s discovered by McDormand’s Fern. It’s a beautiful, sublime and remarkable piece of art that allows its filmmaker to emerge as a visually and intellectually unique author, who I am sure, you will rate as highly as I did.

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