Nebraska

Nebraska (Alexander Payne, 2013)

Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Stacy Keach

An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.

This is a pretty good film. Bruce Dern is wonderful, as is June Squibb. But in judging the quality of the film as a whole, I found that I was using the Coen brothers oeuvre as a reference, and finding Payne wanting. Will Forte's son is too earnest, and lacking in humour - as is the film, which also has no self-awareness, and so no wit.

As with all Payne’s films, there’s a marvellously lived-in feeling to the relationships in the story, particularly evident as more of Woody’s past comes to light in an enforced stay in the town where he grew up and where he has extended family he sees little of. The poised framing of the travelling sequences and local scene-setting, which suggest that whole swathes of this Middle American heartland are in the midst of a deterioration as sad and inevitable as Woody’s, come across as slightly self-conscious in context, though definitely less jarring than the doltish cousins who are the one misjudged concession to knockabout humour. Trevor Johnson, Sight & Sound.


Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 9 August, 2018 | Now: 14 August, 2018