A Frank movie review:  “Nomadland” – 8.5

In a word: Depressing


Yes, depressing, but also riveting. One of the great acting lessons offered by Frances McDormand, who’s already won two Academy Awards, and now, maybe, a third.

     If you’re a fan interested in movies that have a lot of action, violence, foul language, hatred, death, destruction, guns, sex, drugs and speed, do not see this movie. What’s left?


    This is a great film if you’re interested in seeing/feeling life in the depths of loneliness, despair and struggles, yet still managing a positive attitude day after day, relocating often amid the mountains and prairies of north and west America, desperate to get through days and nights of loneliness and need. 

     Fern, the character played by Frances McDormand, lost her husband many years back, yet still feels married to him as signified by wearing the wedding band, for life. She works at jobs now and then, but manages to make friends and acquaintances amid the “nomads,” folks like her who manage to live in their cars and vans and get by with menial jobs now and then.

     This isn’t really about camping, it’s about survival. Fern makes many caring acquaintances during her travels, but when relationships seem to intensify, she’s back on the road again.

     The movie is an exercise for thespians, who should study this work of art, not only crediting McDormand, but also the brilliant director, Chinese born, Chloe Zhao. The movie is already on the list for many awards, as are these two women.

     It is interesting to note that a significant number of the actors playing smaller roles amid the nomads are, actually, nomads themselves with no background in acting. They are the real people in the real places, in the prairies and mountains, a tribute to the director and Frances McDormand.

     Yes, the movie is slow in spots, but that’s part of the story. It’s also why I do not give it a 10.  For the most part, I found it powerfully engaging.    

     A lot of interesting trivia attached to this movie, such as: Twas filmed in seven states over the course of four months, during which Frances McDormand actually performed several of the jobs done by people who do nomadic work, such as harvesting beets and packaging Amazon orders.

     There’s a fascinating world out there in the unknown. This film brings that out.

     Look for Oscar nominations for McDormand and Zhao.

     I give this movie a 8.5 out of 10.

Nomadland (2020) – IMDb