Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Synopsis: An ageing booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million dollar mega sweepstakes marketing prize.
Alexander Payne is building up quite the portfolio of work; About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants and now Nebraska. Like About Schmidt, the film deals with an ageing lead character, and like Sideways he is on a road trip of sorts.
Bruce Dern is fantastically morose as Woody Grant. He receives some junk mail and thinks he’s won a million dollars. He wants a new truck so he plans on getting his hands on the money. After several foiled attempts to walk to Nebraska, his son David finally relents and offers to drive him there if it will shut him up. Along the way they stop in Woody’s old home town and meet some characters from his past, who upon hearing he is set to be rich, are variously happy for him or quick to tap him up for some cash. It doesn’t stop at old friends either, as his extended family think they are due some as well.
The film is a great portrayal of small town folk, and the choice of monochrome instead of colour really adds a kind of nostalgic quality to things. Each member plays their role perfectly, not least June Squibb who is equal parts funny and cantankerous as Woody’s long suffering wife.
Nebraska won’t be for everyone, not least because of the black and white. It is a film where seemingly little happens. In fact, many a scene features old people sat around talking very little, much like a lot of people’s own living rooms when their grandparents come to visit! It’s a ‘real’ film, full of real people who look like real people.
It’s a touching movie as you realise things about Woody as the story progresses, but it never gets overly sentimental. Usually I’m quite easy to manipulate into tearing up at emotional stuff in films, but not this time, and that is a positive not a negative.
This is a film that deserves all of the credit and attention it’s director and actors have received, and a lovely little slice of small town life.