Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nebraska: Movie Review


Simple story, characters, photography and comedy done pretty much to perfection.
“Nebraska” is a simple journey, told with beautiful black and white photography, of a father who thinks he has won a million dollars and a son who doesn’t know what to do with his father except go along with him. Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) suffers from dementia but he’ll argue that point with you straight to the pub. David Grant (Will Forte) lives a fairly empty life so decides to head to Nebraska with his father. 2013

Directed by: Alexander Payne

Screenplay by: Bob Nelson

Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte and June Squibb

Kate (June Squibb), Woody’s wife and David’s mother, and scene-stealing septuagenarian grabs hold of the film as an aging woman who is going to have her opinion heard no matter what. Examples include, “I never knew the son of a bitch wanted to be a millionaire. He should have thought of that years ago and worked for it.” And to David, “You’re just like your father – stubborn as a mule.”

Will Forte gives a very quiet but strong performance – technically supporting, but he's going to be the connection for the audience. Dern's Woody isn't all there, and it's up to David to not just drive his father to Nebraska but keep the audience invested. David also has a more successful brother Ross (Bob Odenkirk) who doesn't make the road trip but does end up in Nebraska for some good old-fashioned family hi-jinks.

The movie is just littered with one-liners, all of which are pretty damn funny. But as you may have guessed, you’ll need to be okay with explicit and sexually-laced language. Kate never holds back.

Alexander Payne, on the other hand, gives the film a very subdued feel and slow pace. It's a simple road trip, a journey to a by-gone place where a father believes he's about to be a millionaire, where a son knows his father is about to be humiliated, but they just might form a relationship along the way.

On route to Lincoln, Nebraska, Woody and David stop in Woody and Kate’s hometown filled with family members who want his money, past acquaintances who have done him wrong (or more likely that he has done wrong), and a cemetery filled with family members who have passed on. But Kate manages to tell their story from beyond the grave with biting hilarity.

Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
“Nebraska” is a simple film done pretty much to perfection. Simple story, simple characters, simple photography and simple comedy (or deadpan humour). It can leave you with a smile, a little food for thought as you watch a simple journey of self discovery (or family discovery).
Best of 2013

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Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) - A circular journey through the Greenwich Village folk scene in 1961.

Much Ado About Nothing (2012) - Merging 1598 with 2013 in comedic seamlessness..