At the Venice Film Festival last September, Frances McDormand told a tale the actors love to tell — it’s about the power of transformation. But this is worth retelling. Because it sounds right like McDormand’s “Nomadland.” The drama was selected as the best film at the 93rd Academy Awards, with McDormand receiving Best Actress and Chloe Chao for Best Director.
During the filming of the movie drama, the actress disappeared in the supermarket. There they did not recognize her as the three-time Academy Award winner who has been since appearing as a pregnant cop in “Fargo” (1996), as a warrior mother in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017) and since Monday Night for her role in “Nomadland”. Instead, they gave her a form: Please fill it out if she is looking for a job in the supermarket.
McDormand may have designed this reaction as a kind of subjective experiment, but that doesn’t matter. She returned to filming and let her director Chloe Chow know with relief: “It works!” McDormand convincingly turns out to be one of those people you move among in the “land of the nomads” and who are often embodied by ordinary people. They present their private lives in front of the camera.
McDormand’s character Verne – we only get her first name – travels from job to job across America in her rickety van for most of the movie. Remotely sorts parcels at an Amazon distribution warehouse, cleaning up grease dripping off the stove in a fast-food kitchen or in restroom restrooms. Verne is a widow who has lost everything: her husband to cancer, her job and her home to the economic crisis. When the only big business owner in his town goes bankrupt, the town’s zip code is deleted.
Verne packed her most important possessions in her car and searched for a new life in the vast country, confident in America’s promise of freedom – or what was left of it. Or is Verne escaping from the ruins of her old existence?
Ferns will have other options. For example, she could move in with her sister, who pops in from time to time because she needs $2,000 to fix her car. But the sister realizes that she has to let Vern go. Verne has always been a “pioneer,” she says with resignation.
Oscars 2021: ‘Nomadland’ wins Best Picture
The time came Monday night: The 2021 Oscars were awarded. And this year’s Academy Award for Best Picture went to “Nomadland.” © Reuters
Big difference between “homeless” and “homeless”
The pioneers—at least in Hollywood movies—were determined settlers who traveled west on their journeys full of hope for the future. In this film adaptation of the novel “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” (German: “Nomaden der Arbeit”) by Jessica Browder, she is a woman whose face is often darkly shaded, but who can also laugh heartily. .
The landscapes you drive through, snow-capped mountains on the horizon and deserts still look as majestic as ever. At least through the car window. Verne once met acquaintances from her previous life, as she was a teacher, among other things. Verne refers to her in a friendly but firm way: No, she’s not “homeless,” but rather “homeless.”
For Verne, this is an important difference. Firstly, she cares about defending her dignity, and secondly, many live like her. Director Chloé Zhao, born in Beijing and now active in the USA, is very knowledgeable about global backpackers, letting these folks tell their stories in the evening around a campfire or while having their hair cut.
Nomadland has something poetic as well as something documentary about it. Misery is by no means a show, this movie is no way for an Oscar actress. Works in reverse: McDormand puts himself at the service of others
The main site is a camp somewhere in the desert where travelers gather. Whoever says goodbye here, perhaps even from life, the others then shout: “See you on the road.” These people may have been spat out by the regime, and now they are forming their own community. Everyone counts on solidarity: somewhere in the prairie, a tire can always explode.
“Nomadland” is a sad movie, but it’s not an accusatory movie. Only once did Verne allow himself to get away with a brief note about morals, when someone cheering about the massive amount of money invested in the real estate business dryly suggests that people first had to leave homes before they could sell.
Little of this America on Wheels movie has been seen in cinemas yet. One wonders how one has been staring at a narcissist in the White House for the past four years when there have been very different stories from America to tell.
Meanwhile, director Zhao has switched to the Marvel comic universe and is working on the superhero movie “The Eternals”. At the premiere of “Nomadland” last fall at the Venice Film Festival, it won the Golden Lion — and pretty much every other film award since then.
“Nomadland”Directed by Chloe Chow, Starring: Frances McDormand and David Strathairn, 108 min.