Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Director Alexander Payne seems to excel with movies depicting people past their prime going on road trips. The obvious examples for the phenomenon I'm talking about are About Schmidt and Sideways, both movies I highly regard. So much so that when a new member of the genre came out, Nebraska, I had to see it. I was not disappointed.
Shot in unique black and white, Nebraska follows the family of old Woody (Bruce Dern). Residing in Montana, where his two kids also live, Woody is past his mind's prime. He interprets a junk mail pamphlet promising a million dollars as the real thing, and decides he has to venture to Nebraska for "his" cash. When he starts walking there the cops stop him on the highway, but Woody is persistent. Eventually, his son David (Will Forte), a hi-fi salesman who recently broke up with his girlfriend - you cannot blame David for being too successful - decides to help. It does not matter To David how fruitless the objective is; with Woody being as old as he is, what other chance will he get to follow a dream?
Thus David and Woody go on a road trip to Nebraska. On the way they stop at the town Woody grew up in, the place where most of his family still resides at. No matter how many times David explains things, the family thinks Woody is about to become rich; and between them not being too successful either, and various old friends wanting a piece of the cash, tensions ensue.
Nebraska thus turns out to be a touching film about the things truly important in life. It's a film about family, both the better and the worse sides of it; it's a film about following one's dreams; and it's a film about settling old affairs down.
As someone who recently lost his old aged father, I found so much I could identify with in Nebraska that it became obvious this movie came to me at the right time. With all the sorrow that came with the death of my father, I could not avoid noting how the bulk of the tensions came from family arguments rather than from my father's situation. All the while, I could not avoid lamenting on how the death of my father means us two can no longer embark on anything together anymore, the way David and Woody did in their journey to Nebraska. And just like David and Woody, my father and I are/were far from perfect; both of us have/had our issues.
Between its story and its style, Nebraska offers fine drama.
Overall: While the journey Nebraska takes us through is not as much of an eye opener as, say, Sideways, its story is still relevant and touching. 3.5 out of 5 crabs to this very well done movie.