Nomadland ★★★½

All is not lost. When you grieve someone, lose something deep, you grieve also a way of life, a hope dashed, a path you never imagined you wouldn’t travel.

Chloé Zhao’s instantly indelible, impossibly graceful travelogue is a devastating elegy for one American dream, and a hopeful evocation of another. Mournful, weathered, and ruminative, it’s poetry that settles gradually into your soul, song and verse that lands like ancient truth.

Led by what’s quite possibly my favorite performance from Frances McDormand, Zhao’s film is a hushed and lyrical picaresque, made up of faces and places. It’s populated with real-life nomads who roam a great wilderness with the hardened resolve and quiet optimism of people leaving behind what they’ve lost with the knowledge they will one day find something else to fill their hearts — even if just each other. Maybe that’s all we ever had to begin with, and all we ever will.

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