Nebraska (2013) is a father and son road movie set in the vast open spaces of mid-western America, rendered with finely nuanced black and white photography to highlight its spatial isolation and the melancholic emptiness of iconic desert landscape.
It has a linear narrative, all within a two-day journey, where an aging and almost-senile father is obsessed with collecting a scam $1M lottery win so he can buy a new truck and leave something for the two sons that he neglected throughout most of his alcoholic life.
While the horizontal plotline is uncomplicated, it is the vertical layers of nostalgia for places and values, the yearning for relevance, and the effect of aging and disconnected relationships, which give this film depth and complexity. Although it fits within the comic-drama genre, with the predictable reactions of small-town family and friends towards the ‘big win’, the humour is not for laughing out loud but rather for smiling at life’s ironies, its human frailties and idiosyncrasies.
Overall, it is a moving film that lingers in the memory long after the final image of a lonely road fades to black.
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb