Nebraska, Hollywood English Film Movie review, Johnson Thomas, Rating: * * * 1/2

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Nebraska(English) Rating: * * * ½  Alexander Payne returns to his home state of Nebraska for his sixth directorial feature, a wistful ode to small-town Midwestern life and the quixotic dreams of stubborn old men.

English Film review
Johnson Thomas
Old Men don’t dance, they entrance!
Film: Nebraska
Director: Alexander Payne


Rating:  *  *  * ½

Running Time: 110 min.

 
Synopsis:Director Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) takes the helm for this black and white road trip drama starring Bruce Dern as a tempestuous Missouri father who's convinced he's won a million dollar magazine sweepstakes, and Will Forte as the son who grudgingly agrees to drive him to Nebraska to claim his winnings.
 
Review
Woody Grant(Bruce Dern) is a senile, alcohol addled war veteran so it comes as no surprise when he decides to make the trip to Nebraska following one of those magazine sweepstakes million dollar win letters that he receives. He makes the 900-mile trek from his home in Billings, Montana, to the prize office in Lincoln, Nebraska by himself, on foot. So that makes for a different kind of engagement for the viewer.
 
Woody's son, David (Will Forte), appears to be one of the good guys- A single and struggling electronics salesman, he does not make waves. He and his father have issues and communication is always a problem so David sees opportunity in the road-trip in the hope of emjoying some long-overdue father-son bonding. So they hop in David's car, to the frustration and disgust of Woody's loyal and long-suffering wife, Kate(June Squibb).
Along the way, Woody and David do some touristy side trips- stop to see Mount Rushmore before making an extended visit to Woody's hometown in Nebraska. David is unable to  keep his father out of his dive-bar haunts and neither is he able to stop him from mouthing to all and sundry about his so-called winnings. Woody becomes a local celebrity, old acquaintances and relatives regard him with an uneasy mix of pride, envy and greed and there are those that are predatory –an old friend  played by Stacy Keach ,  who claims Woody has owed him money for decades. But the excitement gets curtailed when Kate and Woody’s other son Ross (Bob Odenkirk)—an aspiring news anchor—show up to try to to rescue Woody.
Payne directs this film with great efficacy allowing the viewer to form a bond with the lead character in-spite of all his negative traits. Shit in bleak black-and-white by Payne's frequent cinematographer Phedon Papamichael ("Sideways," "The Descendants"), it’s a nostalgia driven ride drenched in melancholy and decay. The characters are all flawed and their complications are visible. The film's starkly beautiful final images have a poignancy that will certainly leave you in an emotionally heightened state of being..

Bruce Dern merges himself into Woody, allowing for a cantankerous, clueless persona that goes half-cocked into a journey that no sane, non-alcoholic would take. Dern’s performance is all heart and appears to be a strong competitor for the best actor Oscar alongside Mathew McConaughey’s in Dallas Buyers Club.

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