Alexander Payne is one of those directors that deliver some great films, but they are always a bit out there. With films like The Descendants and Sideways he has always allowed the characters to lead the charge as opposed to the popular flash and trash of Hollywood blockbusters. His latest film Nebraska looks to keep that same vibe as well as a surprising cast headlined by Bruce Dern and Will Forte, but does it still pack the emotional punch and character driven stories that he is known for?
Nebraska follows a father and son on a road trip from Billings to Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska that gets waylaid at a small town in central Nebraska, where the father grew up and has scores to settle and a son that doesn’t understand him. This film is vintage Payne and feels it even more so with his choice to shoot the film in black and white. It strangely fits this movie perfectly and the overall tone of it all. Bruce Dern is excellent as always delivering very little dialogue as a whole, but all the emotional punch and character needed for this guy to come to life. The real surprise is Will Forte who is most notably for comedy, but steps into this film like a pro and really delivers. He and Dern have an uncomfortable and estranged chemistry that works brilliantly for this film. Their story is filled with way more drama than you might expect, but just enough needed to make for an emotionally driven film that works on every level. The rest of the cast fit right in with each stealing their own moments most notably June Squibb whose graveyard sequence is so wrong, but is easily one of the funniest moments of the entire film. Much of this film is comical, but it focuses more on the family drama of these characters and the dysfunctional nature of it all. It’s a pretty simplistic movie filled with just ordinary people dealing with life’s struggles in a way that is beautiful on every level while still being emotionally charged to deliver one of the best films in some time.
Movies like this sneak up on audiences and are what true cinema is about. They tell a story with a unique vision while never letting the mess of Hollywood clutter it up with nonsense. While the black and white nature may put off some people this is a film that should not be missed and it’s no surprise that this film has garnered six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Bruce Dern), Best Supporting Actress (June Squibb) Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. While the film is enough of a reason to check it out, this Blu-ray also sports a making of featurette that further enhances the film experience so be sure to grab your copy when it hits Blu-ray and DVD on February 25th.
For more information head over to the official site at http://www.nebraskamovie.com/