‘Fresh’ might be the last word to come to mind when describing Nebraska, a black-and-white film with a 77-year-old protagonist. However, calling this film anything other than a breath of fresh air would be unfair.
Nebraska follows Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), a 77-year-old man who believes he’s won a million dollars. His wife Kate (June Squibb) and older son Ross (Bob Odenkirk) are quick to shut him down. His younger son David (Will Forte), on the other hand, decides to humor his father and drives him to Nebraska.
Things, although, don’t go according to plan and the father-son duo are forced to make a pit-stop in Woody’s hometown. Here, he encounters old friends and family, leading to awkward reunions and unpleasant conversations.
While it may seem that way, Nebraska is the furthest thing from a road trip movie. It is the laid-back tale of a son humoring his father, while also hoping that the former comes to his senses. During the road trip, Woody and David attempt to mend their strained relationship which leads to many realizations, some pleasant and others rather unpleasant.
An already amazing script is improved by the cast’s stellar performances. desc is brilliant in his portrayal of a man out of touch with reality. In fact, his performance in Nebraska might just be one of his best performances ever. He is nicely balanced out by June Squibb, who provides comic relief as his jaded, cynical wife. Similarly, Will Forte and Bob Odenkirk complement each other in their portrayals of Woody’s sons.
The cinematography of the film is also noteworthy. While shooting it in black-and-white was a risky decision, it certainly paid off. The landscapes of America are effectively showcased, while also setting a somber tone for the movie.
The only drawback of the film is its tendency to drag at times. Though the movie is generally well-paced, some parts tend to become too slow to remain effective. However, viewers of Payne’s previous works (The Descendants, About Schmidt) have already come to expect more laid-back films from him.