Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog


Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on November 27, 2013 at 9:15 PM


Alexander Payne



IDEA:  An old, ornery alcoholic father convinces his son to drive him to Nebraska thinking he's won a million dollars. On the way there, they stop by the town where the old man grew up, his past - and genealogy - revealing themselves in the process.

BLURB:  Nebraska is a picture-perfect portrait of a place and a people, rendered with sensitivity, character, and a kind of region-specific detail that’s so precise it’s nigh miraculous. Its depiction of the American Midwest is as fine as the cinema has seen: whether capturing the majesty of its vast, unadorned landscapes or representing its small towns and their communities, it is attuned to the humble, understated temperament of the country’s heartland in a way that goes beyond the provincial and into a kind of transcendent familiarity. Payne and screenwriter Bob Nelson never step a foot wrong in giving us a totally naturalistic sense of the individual and shared family histories that have been built into this geography. Their insight into the ways familial relationships stall and evolve, regress and reshape through time and circumstance, is poignant and true. The faces chosen to bring the story and its characters to life are just as exemplary: Bruce Dern, June Squibb, and Will Forte make a hilariously mercurial father-mother-son dynamic, but it’s the bit parts, the little guys, that show just how attentive Payne is to the social fabric he’s weaving. Every single person, primary or peripheral, has the right look, the right sound, the right feel – while they may be polarized by the vagaries of life and family, nobody is out of place in this beautifully modest slice of Americana.

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