By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
the compelling, new drama from director Chloe Zhao
(“The Rider” and “Songs My Brothers Taught Me”) is based on Jessica Bruder’s 2017 non-fiction book, “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century.”
The movie, stars two-time Academy Award winning actress Francis McDormand
("Fargo," “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) as a widow whose life is upended when the sheetrock plant she worked at in Empire, Nevada shuts down.
Fern (McDormand) decides to sell most of her belongings and pack up the rest in her van as she travels around the American west looking for work.
Luck doesn’t appear to be on her side. There aren’t many jobs to be had and not many companies are hiring older workers like her. Fern does manage to land a seasonal job at an Amazon distribution center to tide her over through winter.
Fern keeps plugging away and her crisscrossing journey takes her to several places doing menial jobs from cleaning toilets at Badlands National Park to shoveling beets in Nebraska. A friend advises her to head to Arizona and meet with a group of nomads that include real life nomads Bob Wells, Linda May, and Charlene Swankie.
Their lifestyle is an eye-opening experience for Fern who is drawn to them and particularly a road weary traveler named David (David Strathairn, TV’s “Day by Day”), who like everyone has a story to tell as well as a bit of twinkle in his eye for Fern.
Fern is open to nomad's advice and shared spirit, yet she also enjoys her solitude. When she’s asked by a young woman if she’s homeless, Fern says “I’m not homeless, I’m just houseless.” For Fern there’s a significant difference.
“Nomadland, which McDormand also co-produced, is a story about survival, compassion and freedom.
Fern’s quest to discover her true being and come to terms with it during this quiet odyssey is a touching character study that McDormand delivers with ample conviction and empathy.
"Nomadland" opens in limited theaters and on Hulu Feb. 19.
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Watch This Trailer For "NOMADLAND"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.