Thursday, November 28 2013, 01:47 PM MST
Movie Review: Nebraska
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb
Genre: Drama, Adventure
Recommended To: Those looking for a slow burning character drama.
Synopsis: Believing that he has won a million dollars Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) repeatedly sets out to walk from Montana to Nebraska to claim his prize. After numerous foiled attempts Woody’s son David (Will Forte) reluctantly agrees to drive him.
Review: Director Alexander Payne strode into the spotlight with his indie hit Sideways (the excellent Election was largely ignored). Seven or so years later he returned with the acclaimed drama The Descendants. Typically Payne is responsible for his own scripts. For Nebraska he works from an original script by the relatively unknown Bob Nelson. And it shows. For the first twenty or so minutes Nebraska is a tough nut to crack. It moves in circles as it delivers its exposition. Woody is a gruff, stubborn old fool without purpose toiling away in retirement. His wife is disinterested and bewildered and his sons are detached and annoyed. None of them are particularly happy or successful. A million dollar award would give Woody a sense of accomplishment, which ultimately is more important than the money itself. The story picks up when Woody and David hit the road. The bulk of the narrative takes place in Woody’s childhood town where Woody’s past relationships and all the old stories David has heard growing up start to take shape. It is here where we can understand Woody’s irrational hope and his need for the impossible to be true. Bruce Dern offers a fine disheveled performance (some are calling for an Oscar nomination) and Will Forte is surprisingly good (perhaps because he isn’t pushing for laughs).
Nebraska is a very good film and while it didn’t quite live up to the hype surrounding it I still recommend it to anyone looking for a solid character drama.
-Ryan Michael Painter