Golden Globes-Nominated NOMADLAND Merits Extreme Caution For These Reasons
By Movieguide® Staff
Editor’s Note: NOMADLAND was recently nominated for a Golden Globe. The following is only a portion of our review for NOMADLAND. For a full breakdown of content, including worldview, violence, language, sex, nudity, drug use/abuse, smoking, and miscellaneous immorality, click here.
NOMADLAND stars Frances McDormand as a fiftysomething woman who uproots her life after losing her job at a Nevada sheetrock plant and goes on the road, where she meets other itinerant nomads. NOMADLAND features a noteworthy performance by France McDormand, who brings some gusto and flare to the movie. However, the rest of the movie isn’t as satisfying, and the movie’s positive moral elements and references to the birth of Jesus Christ in one early scene are marred by Romantic and pagan attitudes, explicit bathing nudity in one scene, brief foul language, and two verbal references to suicide.
NOMADLAND is based on a non-fiction book about older people who lost their jobs during the Great Recession created by the housing bubble engineered by Democrat Party policies. In fact, it features some of the same real-life people from the book, which was written by Jessica Bruder.
The movie begins with text on screen informing viewers that a sheetrock plant in Nevada was forced to shut down after 88 years of operation. Cut to Fern, a fiftysomething woman who’s looking at items in her van. Viewers soon learn that Fern was one of the sheetrock workers who lost her job, and now she’s on the road looking for another job.
Fern makes it to an Amazon distribution center, where she works through the holidays. While there, Fern meets Linda May, a sweet woman who’s probably a tad older than her and headed to Arizona. What’s in Arizona? A community of older van-dwellers trying to get a fresh start, despite their age. The community is built on the idea of teaching others how to survive a lifestyle on the road.
Fern heads to Arizona and meets up with Linda May in Fern’s own van she’s named Vanguard. Fern learns the 10 Commandments of stealth parking. She also goes to an RV convention, where she learns how to deal with her own waste while on the road. One day, Fern’s new friend in the community, Charlene Swankie, helps Fern deal with a flat tire which reveals that she only has seven months to live. Charlene and Fern ponder life and death while Fern continues to explore the American wilderness out west.
Fern and Linda May meet up again to work at a wildlife park in the desert. At the park, Fern runs into Dave, a man she knew from her days at the sheetrock plant. Dave invites her to come with him to see his family. Fern doesn’t go immediately but does oblige him after she goes to see her own family. However, it seems that Fern isn’t comfortable sleeping in a bed in Dave’s son’s home. Fern still feels the urge to keep moving, but from what or where to, those are the questions.
NOMADLAND is sort of an INTO THE WILD for the geriatric audience. INTO THE WILD was a drama about a man who left society to live alone in the Alaskan wilderness. The only glaring difference is that the characters in NOMADLAND live on the road due to deviations in their retirement or work plans, not just to thwart expectations of their youth, as the man in INTO THE WILD does. As Fern, Frances McDormand plays a likable character with enough gusto and flare for fun to keep the story entertaining. The movie also features a beautiful melodic score. However, NOMADLAND is shot like a travelogue documentary, so the rest of the movie isn’t as satisfying as her performance.
NOMADLAND has a Romantic worldview mixed with some moral elements. The protagonist Fern has an air of wanderlust about her motivations for being on the road, which viewers come to learn stems from being sedentary with her late husband during his life. The movie captures the beauty of nature and poetry with the same zeal for exploration. That said, several characters care for one another, and it’s clear that family matters. There are also light elements of paganism were characters do what they want when they want to do it. However, this attitude doesn’t come from a desire to be intentionally harmful or selfish, but rather from a season of life where people are trying to take more ownership of their future.
Although the protagonist sings Christmas carols in the beginning, there’s no other Christian content in NOMADLAND. In contrast to this, the Bible is filled with plenty of stories about God’s people roaming in the wilderness. These biblical stories usually, if not always, tell us about God’s deliverance of His people and His sustaining power in times of confusion and wandering. For Christian viewers of NOMADLAND, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® encourages reading Psalm 23, the Psalm urging us to consider God as our divine shepherd. Of course, Jesus is the ultimate Divine Shepherd who finds lost sheep and leads His sheep in the paths of righteousness.
NOMADLAND also contains explicit bathing nudity in one scene, brief foul language and two verbal references to suicide. So, MOVIEGUIDE® urges extreme caution for this critically acclaimed drama.