Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5
A very well-done film, with an overall depressing motif, from the people to the environment to the black and white cinematography. Bruce Dern, in a tour de force, plays an old codger who has had it with everything: his wife, his sons, his relatives, neighbors, and just life in general. He latches onto a glimmer of hope when a sweepstakes junk mailer promises him one million dollars, so he sets his mind on getting to the mailer’s headquarters in Lincoln Nebraska to get the money in person. (“I wouldn’t trust a million dollars in the mail!”) There are several themes that resonate: 1) caring for elderly parents as they slip to the end of their lives, often into dementia first; 2) questioning what are we living for, more money, family, friends; 3) regret about past loves, decisions made, favors made; 4) how money changes people’s outlook, bringing out their nastiest; 5) finally, and what makes this ultimately a lovely film, a love for one’s parents regardless of how nasty they may become. Will Forte plays the loving son, and it’s his patience, innate sadness and humaneness that makes this a touching film. By the way, June Squibb is wonderful as the long suffering wife of Dern’s codger, who suffers no fools and is quick to curse out anyone who crosses her path. By the way, there’s some very funny parts to this, including a pair of cousins who together probably don’t total an IQ of 100.
Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5
This is the first review from movies I saw at last week’s Austin film festival. I’ll write a few more reviews in the next few days.
Nebraska is the latest movie from Alexander Payne, the director of Sideways and The Descendants. Bruce Dern gives an exceptional performance as Woody, an aging alcoholic trying to get to Nebraska to claim his $1 million marketing sweepstakes prize (which, of course, is not real). His son David (Will Forte) offers to take him, and a road trip ensues. Woody and David have had a rocky past, and the road trip gives them an opportunity to work through some of their issues. A stop in Woody’s old home town also gives David a chance to gain more insight into his father (and mother) and the relationship they had with some of their relatives and others from the town.
The film has a good mix of humor and drama. While you don’t get to understand all that made Woody the way he is/was, you do end up pretty sympathetic to all the characters. In addition to Dern’s great performance, Forte was also surprisingly good in a non-comedic role. June Squibb was as Woody’s wife stole just about every scene she was in.
I liked this a lot and definitely recommend it. Nebraska opens in a couple of weeks.