|The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:
|Approx. 108 min.
Fern (Frances McDormand) is one of the many people who lost everything after the Great Recession of 2008 in the United States. She has packed her last belongings into an old van, which she uses to move around the West from then on. Wherever she gets a job, she stops in her mobile home until it's time to move on to the next destination. Fern is able to cope with her new life as a modern nomad especially because of the people who have been moving around the country for a while and share their experiences with Fern. This is essentially the frame story of this year's Oscar winner "Nomadland". The film feels like a cross between a feature film and a documentary, as director Chloé Zhao embeds Fern's story in footage and conversations with real-life nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells.
Like Jessica Bruder's book, Zhao aims to recreate as realistic a picture as possible of modern nomadic life in the U.S. after the economic demise of many small towns. She achieves this by presenting several events from about a year in the life of her fictional main character Fern, just staged with real characters in real locations. There is no clear story, but only snapshots, which taken together, however, create a coherent overall picture. The filmmaker succeeds very well in immersing the audience in a world that somehow feels familiar and yet seems so incredibly foreign.
Naturally, the problems that lead to people like Fern becoming modern nomads are addressed, as well as the hard, thankless jobs they do to keep their heads a little bit above water financially. It is very well worked out that the nomads seem to be loners, but they live in a community that sticks together - even if they don't know each other (yet). In such moments, which are often immersed in fascinating landscape shots, the film could easily have run the risk of romanticizing the lives of people like Fern. But it neither stylizes Zhao into quiet heroes nor turns them into victims. And that really does the film some good.
Because it simply shows people striving to live as happy and self-determined a life as possible with dignity, even if they have been dropped by society. "Nomadland" is an honestly quiet, but quite intense film that makes you think, but at the same time is incredibly life-affirming. Not light fare, but definitely: absolutely worth seeing!
An article by Frankfurt-Tipp