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Spoiler-free review

By Christiana

(Exclusively from London Film Festival)

Filmmaker Chloé Zhao, previously involved in writing and directing the critically-acclaimed feature “The Rider”, and currently developing Marvel’s all-star “Eternals”, took on the 2020 edition of London Film Festival with “Nomadland”. Her latest film unravels one woman’s journey to self-discovery, following the Great Recession which occurred between 2007 and 2009, leaving her without a source of income. 


Fern - played by the theatrical Frances McDormand, (Academy Award-winner for “Fargo” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) - goes on a mission to uncover the natural beauties of the United States, while rediscovering herself and fusing new ambitions for the future. Instead of leading a usual life, she wanders around the country, living in an RV and becoming a part of each new culture she stumbles upon, making her a modern-day nomad. 


Integrating a grand narrative with a noble purpose in an exquisite mixture of pastel colour palettes and scenery, Zhao’s cinematic piece is a manifesto of human nature, memory bound and forever looking to belong. The ever-present need to establish an emotional core which enables us to form strong connections with other individuals stands at the center of the film. Looking for a place to call home, while getting further away from the one she’d known her entire life, Fern finds shelter in those she meets along the way. 


The very idea of the film is delicately projected in front of the audiences, pleasantly crafted to enable those who dare to dream, to relate to the protagonist’s inner battle. Loss, personal thoughts transitioned into the form of ever-lasting memories, and a sheer curiosity and lust for life, are the principles and events which guide Fern throughout her pilgrimage. 


This year, many filmmakers appear to have turned to nature shots for a better depiction of their aesthetic ideals, forging authentic video journals centered around their subjects, dedicated to initiating a self-search of the characters. Such pictures, apart from “Nomadland”, are “Supernova” and “Ammonite”. Combining both the archetypal perspective of life as compared to the sky’s boundlessness, as in the former, and the coastal surroundings of the latter, Chloé Zhao beautifully makes use of scenery and pensive musical backgrounds to affirm her directorial vision. 


Catch this critically acclaimed film, and current holder of the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion prize for “Best Film” and “Best Director”, in cinemas this December.


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