Film Review: Nebraska

Nebraska was one of those last minute movies – it had somehow totally slipped me by – and it was only when a friend on twitter said she wanted to see it that I even knew it existed. A quick watch of the trailer, listen to Mark Kermode’s review and a few clicks on Vue’s “What’s on?” page and I was off to see essentially the last performance of it as it’s run on the big screen was rather limited and short to say the least. Which is such a shame.

As I was going in with very much a limited knowledge of plot and quite what to expect, my preconceived ideas and the reality they met where together and yet distant (I must buy a thesaurus as I’m sure they must be a single posh word that means “together yet distant”!).

The plot on the surface looks simple, basic and almost cliched. Old man receives pyramid scheme style letter stating he’s won a million dollars and sets off on a rather long walk to collect his winnings as he doesn’t trust the postal service. Family know it’s a scam, but decide he’s going to go come what may so better we take him than let him go it alone.

However, what arrives on screen to add the depth and flavour to the plot is a seriously emotional story. A story that takes you on a ride you weren’t expecting. And I loved it. Emotionally, it’s going to tear you up, rearrange the pieces, and leave you spending the next few days, not quite sure how you feel, connect and with questions flying around your head, that only with the passage of time and reflection allow you to go “yeah, that was seriously good”.

Oh, and I guarantee at one point you WILL set there going “don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it” inside your head.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t have some down sides. It’s shot totally in black and white. Well, actually it’s projected in black and white. It was shot in colour and then through the magic of post production converted into monochrome and artificially noised. I understand why this was done. And on the emotional level it does help draw you into the world as seen by our leading old man, but for me, the monochrome is far too bleached and overly contrasted that on occasions becomes distracting.

The movie also drags. It’s not actually that long, especially by modern standards, where it often feels that if you told the story in less than 5 days you’ve left too much on the cutting room floor. But I digress. The final third just seems to go on and on and on. I think it’s slightly because of the emotional questions and connections the film has made up that as it progresses towards its conclusion you start to think “end it now” and yet on it rolls. Ad infinitum.

I’m actually writing this review 4 days after I saw the film – and as I said earlier, the film has now had time to settle down, sink in and emotionally sort itself out in my head. I’m sure if I’d written it just after I’d left this review would be totally different. I’d have been writing metaphors about feeling like I’d been though the spin and rinse cycles of my washing machine.

However, days later, I can finish with a simple sentence and a clear head. This movie is good, in fact this movie is very good.

9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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