Nebraska wasn’t really what I expected at all, but it filled a different void I love in film that is seemingly always missing. It was the white whale of this Oscar season, the lauded film that I could never seem to find my hands on, until now, with expectations at a most sizable level. Nebraska can quite easily be boiled down on a plot level, a senile and withering old man believes he’s owed a million dollars from a sweepstakes, and his son takes him on a journey to it, bouncing off family members and past acquaintances. That of course isn’t what makes the movie.
Americana is the word that keeps coming back to me when I think about Nebraska. No, not Nebraska the film, but Nebraska the state. Maybe, it’s just me, but when I think about America, my first thought doesn’t go to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or any major city like that, instead I think of seemingly forgotten places like Montana, Wymoning and Nebraska. I love these minimal American countires, ones that personify small towns and simple life, but are just as part of the fabric of America as any of the larger cities. I think Nebraska is a fine and rewarding exploration on these places and the people that inhabit them.
It’s a movie about family, sure, with Bruce Dern and Will Forte’s relationship, along with Bob Odenkirk and the incredibly fantastic June Squibb who makes the film in her own way. But, I think as much as it explores these familiar means, it’s the history of a town, the floating away from your past and the snapback that makes you visit it again when you had no reason that sketches out this film so wonderfully.
The acting of course is phenomenal. I had questions of Will Forte, who I love from Saturday Night Live and his comedic endeavours, but was incredibly unsure to how he would take this, and fantastically he did so. I don’t even know if it’s worth discussing Bruce Dern, because of course he blows the metaphorical doors off the film witch such subtle tact. As I mentioned before, June Squibb is the standout, so hilariously real and honest, she brings a life-like quality to the family and creates a conduit to anyone who sees their family in this one.
Alexander Payne continues his filmography of exploration of families and relationships. I look forward to his fils because of this, and they always seem to reveal something that his previous films didn’t, although never feeling like something out of left field.