Nebraska is a quaint exploration of the innocence that comes with old age and amongst other big name Oscar nominations, can be most closely associated with the British equivalent ‘Philomena‘.
Academy Award nominated Bruce Dern’s alternative portrayal of amiable naivety and frustrated aimlessness in the modern world is heart breaking. Woody Grant tries to rectify his life’s wrongs by pursuing a trip to Nebraska to redeem a fake competition ticket, supposedly paying out a million dollars. Categorically ignored by the rest of his family who think they know what’s best for him, his exasperation leads him to several childish runaway attempts, before his sensible son David (Will Forte) eventually decides to take him. Forte is assured as the level-headed straight man, acting as the mature voice of reason and unlikely guardian to his demanding family. In addition to controlling Woody, his mother Kate (June Squibb) holds other senior issues. Her lack of awareness concerning her now inappropriate sexuality is charming to watch. Nevertheless it has to be said, Squibb’s gleefully enthused performance is disappointingly unlikely to be rewarded for Best Supporting Actress. Bob Odenkirk’s first major digression since “Breaking Bad” as the estranged brother Ross is engaging, although one feels he will struggle to ever free himself from the shackles of his cult character “Saul Goodman”.
Director Alexander Payne’s choice to use black and white stock is intriguing. These washed out colours reflect the disillusion in Woody’s mind and fuel his desire to turn his life around. Payne’s cinematography is consistently striking as the audience are guided through the expansive routes on their travels. Nebraska’s supporting cast portrays the sweet civilians regularly congratulating Woody on his ‘winnings’ , and the confrontational ‘never say die’ locals who demand a portion of his triumph. All of these elements combined result in a picturesque depiction of small town America.
It’s sophisticated and minimalist approach to road trip comedy and witty insight into the perils of old age is a worthy watch. Considered an outsider in many respects at this year’s ceremony, but like “Philomena”, would be a deserved winner.
IMDB Rating: 7.9
My Rating: 7