Nomadland (2020) TIFF Review (Written By Hussain Alokaily)

Nomadland review: Frances McDormand drama is a masterpiece |

Nomadland is the new film from Chloé Zhao which revolves around a woman in her sixties (Francis McDormand) who after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.

I haven’t had the opportunity to see Zhao’s previous film “The Rider'' but I have heard a lot of excellent things about it. Basically, I started to pay attention to Zhao’s rise as a filmmaker especially when Marvel hired her to direct the upcoming “Eternals”. Little did I know that in the meantime and currently with Eternals, Zhao ended up making Nomadland which got my attention especially with McDormand attached to it. I thankfully had an opportunity to see it digitally from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and after seeing it, I’m excited to say that Nomandland is one of the year’s best films.

This movie comes entirely to life from Zhao’s stunning direction and screenplay on display here. Zhao directs the film with a unique observational approach to the story as you really just follow a slice of life from the main character and how she lives it. Zhao further emphasizes this approach by even having real Normand’s play themselves in the film which further immerses the audience into the film. It simply results in a film that is handled so beautifully and a film that will resonate with many. I also loved the camera work as it feels so free and just follows the characters around and really enhances the observational feel. The writing feels so human and real to the point where it simply feels like raw dialogue. It may be a film with lots of heavy emotion but also manages to remain hopeful, optimistic, and human by the end of the film.

What makes the film that much more immersive and engaging is Francis McDormand’s performance which I contend will be her third Oscar to her name!! McDormand is so subtle in the role and you can feel the emotions going through her. It’s simply a powerhouse performance that feels so authentic and real that you forget you are watching McDormand play a role. Finally, the cinematography is simply one of the best I have seen all year. Zhao seems to love shooting in golden hours and it shows us some of the shots are simply breathtaking and really shows a whole side to America I have never seen before in film. 

In conclusion, Nomadland is not just one of the best films of the year, it also seems to be one that will be huge at awards season this year. It’s a deeply human and intimate film that shows why Chloé Zhao is such a promising and emerging talent. More than ever, I’m now incredibly excited to see what Zhao has in store with “Eternals” as this film shows that she is bringing something new to the cinematic form that we haven’t seen before.

Nomadland gets a 4/5

As always, thank you for checking out our reviews! Big shoutout to Hussain Alokaily for covering TIFF 2020 here. You can find his content on Letterboxd @GSR and view his excellent movie based youtube videos HERE!

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