Nomadland (2020)

R   |    |  Drama

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Nomadland (2020) Poster

A woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.


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A Guide to the Films of Chloé Zhao

From The Rider to Nomadland, we explore down the cinematic trademarks of writer, producer, and director Chloé Zhao.

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Reviews & Commentary

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20 February 2021 | fmilder-533-34251
| The Great McDormand in an otherwise bland movie
Let's get the obvious point out of the way first: Frances McDormand is a national treasure. She may well be the ranking American actress, and she conveys an "everywoman" aura that is almost hypnotic. The lines on her face, a limitation for many actresses, are an outstanding feature for her.

Now, as for the movie: As many have observed, there's scarcely a beginning, middle, or end. We're told how Fay got to be on the road, we see a handful of interactions with others, we get some gorgeous cinematography, and repeat; and repeat again. Life isn't half-bad for Fay and the people she encounters; as bad as it gets is a flat tire or a "helpful" friend inadvertently breaking a beloved piece of china. Somehow, there's money to pay for more serious problems. Other reviews have summarized dozens of ways that the life hinted at here is actually far more harsh than we see.

In many ways, this plays as the first episode of a limited TV series about being on the road. In my humble opinion, despite the gorgeous sunsets, such a pilot would not have been picked up.

One final thing, and perhaps my biggest problem - it's sometimes referred to as the "observer effect." In a movie filled with dozens of "real" people, the interior of a real Amazon, and so on, I found myself constantly wondering about the crew hovering on the edge of the screen with lights and cameras and a director. It really took me out of the movie. Apparently, it worked for the amateur cast; there's a story on the Internet about one of the amateur leads being really moved by hearing a sad story from Fay; once the scene ended, he was stunned when McDormand reminded him that she was acting, and everyone described in the story was actually alive and well. I guess it's great that Ms. McDormand is such a great actress that these real people believed her in real time. But for me, I wondered how real people could melt into being characters in a movie.

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Release Date:

19 February 2021



Country of Origin

USA, Germany

Filming Locations

Arizona, USA

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$503,000 21 February 2021

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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