“Nebraska” the movie could be subtitled: Taking a trip with Dad to a place he’s determined to go, even if you know he’s confused. He wants to go and you cave in, figure you owe him this last wish, think perhaps you will learn something about the both of you along the way.
“Nebraska” the movie delivers on all fronts. The plot is just that simple and the premise, that the old man (Bruce Dern) believes he has the million-dollar winning ticket in a magazine sweepstake’s contest and is determined to cash it in, which requires the trip, sets us up. It’s going to be one of those obligation trips where anything can happen. And does.
The goal is Lincoln, Nebraska. The starting point is Billings, Montana. The landscape between: desolate. The conversations: spare. Colorization: sparse…it’s a black and white film. The trio work together to deliver a punch that is moody, funny, crazy. The average age of the audience the day I watched: 75. I don’t think they laughed quite as much as we did, perhaps because they are on the opposite side of the age equation–on the side wanting to go somewhere and fighting nature’s debilitation preventing it from happening.
Dern reminds me of cousin Walter, my occasional fishing buddy. Maybe that’s why I find him so endearing, but it’s more than that. It’s the realization that if I live that long I too may face a day where I beg one of my kids to take me someplace one more time, and pray that we have a few adventures en route that we may talk about forever more.
Will Forte (as the son) and June Squibb ( as Dern’s cantankerous and long suffering wife) are remarkable too. As with nearly all the characters in the film, the actors look like believable, ordinary citizens of small western places. It’s part of the deceptively familiar character of the film. We know these people; we believe it could happen.
The day after I saw the film I called my dad ( 87) and told him to go see the film. Surprisingly he replied, “I’ve all ready seen it and loved it. Are you going to buy me a truck?”
I laughed real loud. “Where do you want to go Dad?” I asked. I would take him you know. He didn’t answer me.
Mom said she didn’t like it so well; some of the language offended her. She didn’t mention the unflattering portrayal of Dern’s scolding wife. She would never say those things, even if there are times she could. She is funny in her own way, her Indiana-born, mid-western quiet way. Nobody pushes her around either. But I’m sure the characters look familiar to her on some level. She knows life in rural America. She and Dad moved to California as soon as they could and raised us all there.
A classic Nebraska scene: Men watching TV in the living room. In silence. Family.Together. Something genetic is at work here.
“Nebraska,” shot partly in Billings and Laurel, Nebraska in 2012, has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture.
“Nebraska” director Alexander Payne was nominated for best director and Bruce Dern was nominated for best actor. June Squibb received a nomination for best supporting actress, Bob Nelson for best original screenplay, and Pheden Papamichael for best cinematography. The Academy Awards ceremony is March 2.
Category: Indie It Film