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Nomadland. 2020. USA. Directed by Chloé Zhao. With Frances McDormand, David Strathairn. 108 min.
With three features to date, Chloé Zhao (Songs My Brothers Taught Me, The Rider) has earned admiration for her sublime observation of the American heartland by training her lens on the marginalized. In this latest work, we follow Fern (Frances McDormand, in yet another career-defining performance), a 60-ish widow who picks up seasonal work while drifting through the American West in an RV. Fern maintains that she is houseless, not homeless, a sentiment shared by her community of nomads (played by real-life vagrant workers), each seeking freedom, solitude, inspiration, and occasional moments of warmth and togetherness. The magnificent landscape, beautifully filmed by cinematographer Joshua James Richards, provides the ideal backdrop for the search for inner peace in this profound work that offers countless moments for introspection. Premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion, Nomadland has since received multiple “best film of 2020” honors.
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