Nomadland – R – 1 hr 48 min – IMAX
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Tuesday February 23, 2021
AMC Kent Station 14 – Kent, Washington
7th new movie seen in theater in 2021 (1st IMAX)
Fern’s husband of 30+ years dies of cancer. Then Empire falls, the only small Nevada town they have known and loved, a victim of a defunct sheetrock business that kept the town alive. Fern now decides to wander the countryside, living the nomad’s life.
The first half of this movie is very slow. To the point that I kept thinking of an alternate film title “Nostoryland” Alas, it’s more of a deep character study than a typical film with a plot and much excitement happening. Things do happen to Fern, but they are on a more subtle level. We see her involvement as an Amazon seasonal worker, for example. We see her meet a roaming nomad group. We see people “down the road” as the nomad saying goes.
We saw this in IMAX, it was our first movie in this format in 2021 and first since seeing Tenet, I believe. At first it didn’t seem like this was a movie that IMAX treatment would benefit, but the gorgeous cinematography and crisp three dimensional sound made us feel at times that we were traveling the countryside living the life of a nomad, too. Various places Fern makes a sojourn, we also visit. The IMAX experience is quite effective.
The second half of the movie felt almost like a different story. Much more happens, conflicts develop and other characters enter Fern’s life in a way that reshapes her actions and movements.
This is also available for streaming on Hulu,. We saw it first all the way through in the theater, but I started to watch it on Hulu and didn’t get into it. As we watched this I was reminded why the movie theater experience is better suited for these type of films, the ones where you don’t really know what to expect and just let go from distractions and let what is on the gigantic screen soak in.
Watch us leave the theater and our raw comments about the film below. Non-spoiler..
In the end, this movie was a mixed experience. If you’re planning to see it and the IMAX experience is available, that is vastly superior to watching it on Hulu, but that isn’t a recommendation. I wish the first part was shorter, yielding to the much better second part. Kara felt stronger about this one than me. You can hear her specific remarks on the video, which surprised me.
If you’re looking for a mesmerizing story, that’s not here, but if you want to experience a little bit of what it’s like just getting in a van and traveling from place to place, meeting new people, seeing picturesque places, then this might be of interest.
Oscar bait? Absolutely. Kara was entertained and at times I was too, but it was more the visuals than the story. As a character study, it’s too lethargic and feels a bit aimless and depressing. And yet there is a freshness to it, like the smell of nature when you first wake up outside vs. being cooped up inside a home in the city. Still, I wanted Fern to settle down somewhere, and that was the underlying draw: could she? Nomads just keep traveling down the road.
Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️½ (Todd) ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Kara)