Filmmaker Chloé Zhao's Nomadland is one of the most talked-about films of the 2021 award season. The film that premiered at the Venice Film Festival, won several awards last year including Golden Lion, and more than one Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards. The film has also been nominated for 93rd Academy Awards in six categories including Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actress and more.
Nomadland starring Frances McDormand in the lead role, follows Fern, a woman in her sixties who has lost her job and means of living during the Great Recession. She then embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. The film also stars several non-actors and real-life nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells, who help in Fern's journey across Western America.
The film adapted from Jessica Bruder's 2017 non-fiction book of the same name, explores Fern's journey as she slowly beings to find comfort and meaning in the people she meets. The film has been praised by international critics for the lead actress' performance and storytelling.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, claimed that the film looks like a super positive version of Mad Max. Somewhat comparing Nomadland to the post-apocalyptic film, Peter said he waited for "inevitable incursion by violent Hells Angels or sneery materialists, but it never happened." While following the nomads the film looks like a tour of a deserted planet but "this isn't quite a post-apocalypse film. the nomads find work and their lives have a kind of purpose, even a nobility."
The New York Times' AO Scott said Zhao's film oscillates between friendship and solitude. "It has a loose, episodic structure, and a mood of understated toughness that matches the ethos it explores. To some degree, "Nomadland" wishes to be settled - wants not necessarily to domesticate its heroine, but at least to bend her journey into a more-or-less predictable arc." Scott added that the film contradicts most American movies that are willing to permit to conventional happy endings.
Meanwhile, Peter Debruge from Variety said the film is Zhao's way of introducing nomads to the world, "In her non-judgemental way." He added, "Zhao invites audiences to decide for themselves what they make of Fern's lifestyle, which comes with certain dangers: She could freeze to death in her van, food and first aid are sometimes hard to find, and certain aspects of her behavior might suggest mental health issues. Some people need structure, while others abhor complacency. Fern hasn't necessarily decided. She's still testing the waters of a nomadic existence, so we learn as she does, collecting suggestions from those more experienced".
The Oscar-nominated film Nomadland released in India on April 2, 2021.