Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb
Review by Matthew Toffolo
An aging, 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.
What do point out right away
This is an area in American where there isn't a Jewish person or any minority based group (with the exception of Native Americans) in a 3,000 mile radius. This is this world. So no wonder it needs to be in black and white because it's going to be the only black we see in the movie theatre. A world that's almost like a different planet than where I come from. And a movie that many people I know wouldn't see in a million years.
I like Alexander Payne's movies. I don't think he's made a bad film yet. And I kind of liked this film as well. But 'Nebraska' seems to be a film he would have made in the 1990s, not 2013. Basic themes and direction that tell a fine story, but really don't give us anything else. Shouldn't a director evolve from film to film? On the same day, I watched Scott Cooper's Out of the Furnace, an excellent piece of filmmaker and a giant step up directorially from his first film 'Crazy Heart'. He's moving to another level as a filmmaker. Payne seems to be going backwards. It's not like this guy makes a film a year. He generally takes his time from project to project. So if he's going to be doing that, I want a better movie than 'Nebraska'.
What I like about this film
The story about white people living basic lives. It doesn't sugarcoat anything and it's a similar world that I grew up in. White people from certain cultures don't talk about jack-shit. We go through the motions with our conversation as we talk about how long it took to drive from place to place, or how your car is. We talk about how our cars are doing more than we talk about how we are. And we're always in front of the television watching nonsense. That way we don't have to talk to anyone. The reality of this film was so right on it kind of scared me a bit.
What I didn't like so much about this film
I get it. The movie is in black and white to show thematically of the dad's world inside of his soul. He's stuck in the past and present at the same time and therefore can't really engage. He wants to be proud of something before he goes and winning a million dollars sure would be good. He doesn't want the money but the acclaim he receives for it. He wants to die being proud of somethingant And it takes 2 hours for this to occur.
Watching this film in a sold out crowd, I kept listening to the audience snickering at little moments here and there. They were wanting to be entertained and desperately wanting to laugh at something as I think most thought they were entering into a comedy movie of some kind. But it really wasn't. Yes, of course, there were some funny moments, but this film is much more sad and serious than funny.
In conclusion, I passable Alexander Payne movie. But I hope his next time out he gives us something more entertaining. And get out of middle-American and join the minorities.