The plot follows Fern (McDormand), an aged woman and an itinerant worker, who loses basically everything in the Great Recession and sets off on a journey on her rundown RV through the American West, living as a modern-day van-dwelling nomad.
Fern is a widow whose entire town of Empire, Nevada was shut down when the long-running sheetrock plant closed in 2011. She lost basically everything and now lives out of her van and takes any jobs she can find. With nowhere to go, Fern decides to take her RV on the road. Her journey takes her to a group of like-minded nomads in the Quartzsite region, where they exchange tips and stories about life on the road.
Nomadland is a slow-burn movie as it spends a lot of time sitting around listening to the stories told by various people. And except for McDormand and Strathairn, the cast members are virtually all real-life nomads. They ground the movie in the rhythms of their difficult, hardscrabble lives.
Nomadland is a compassionate, gentle, and emotional film about the American soul. With grace and artistry, Zhao folds nonprofessionals into a stunning story that is built around resourceful, cheerful, middle-aged woman (Fern). This self-effacing, quiet performance may be the best of her career.
Nomadland stars Frances McDormand, Linda May, David Strathairn, Bob Wells, and Charlene Swankie.
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