Nomadland ★★★★½

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Chloe Zhao gains international recognition with her award-winning indie hit, The Rider, which is a beautiful prairie drama. Adapting Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book, Zhao writes, directs, and edits Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand as Fern who is independent and strong, working itinerant jobs and living a life on the road alone.

Fern loses everything during the recession in Empire, Nevada, which is a small town built around industry, a gypsum plant. After her husband passes away, she embarks on a journey through the American West in her old RV, following the season and working seasonal jobs. She encounters all kinds of fascinating people on the road, and discovers a community of like-minded nomads, but is cautious about forming bonds of any kind. Instead, she connects with the natural world, and immerses herself into such breathtaking landscapes.

Nomadland impresses with a poignant plot, powerful characters delivered by astonishing performances, stunning cinematography, and beautiful original soundtracks. It leaves long-lasting impacts on the viewers even after the credits end. When asked by an inquiring friend’s daughter, shes says, "I’m not homeless," I’m just… houseless. Not the same thing."

Zhao crafts beautiful tales of marginalized characters living in the society, and on the periphery of cinematic heroism. As Fern explores the American West, the landscapes blend with the wide range of characters, demonstrating how these seemingly isolated outcasts define the diverse voices of America.

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