Light, slow, humorous. The artistic appeal of this movie is fascinating and the acting is well above par, but with the exception of a select few funny moments and character nuances, this movie received its classification as a comedy for its drawn out and nonsensical conversations as opposed to its actual comedic value. Recommended? With the exception of its heartfelt base and meaning, this feel-good family comedy is not for everyone.
The storyline seems a little like Rain Man at times; a man takes an estranged family member on a cross-country journey in search of a large sum of money. The difference here: replace an autistic brother with an alcoholic father; a fortuitous inheritance with a million dollar marketing sweepstakes; and a journey of two men repairing their estranged relationship with each other with one man enabled by his son and his wife to face his life’s former demons. The dialogue comes off dry at times, but story is very touching and relatable.
The most impressive aspect of this movie by far is the acting, as all major roles were taken on superbly. At the centre of the film, Bruce Dern’s performance as the aging, alcoholic patriarch with a dream is inspired. His convincing take on helpless and persistent is irritating in every way that it should be. Will Forte was also quite comfortable in his role, playing a more down to Earth and relatable character who, too, harbours his own demons. But the true scene stealer was June Squibb, who was by far the funniest actor in the whole movie. Her naturally delivered insults and perfect comedic timing made this movie far more enjoyable than it could have been without her.
The decision to film this movie in black and white was a smart one. Some may ask why, but others may ask why not. The movie itself is empty and devoid of colour in both the characters’ personalities and the story. By filtering in black and white, it took away possible distractions and left a plain, barren visual that allows viewers to focus on what is going on for the characters. In fact, everything about the production of this movie is subtle: the quiet guitar music in the background that comprised the score, the simple sets and locations, even just the overall quiet and peaceful tone to the film makes the otherwise forgettable dialogue stand out more.
Nebraska is not a movie that is intended for everyone. While the tone is definitely one that would catch the attention of Oscar voters, this isn’t the most exciting or interesting movie around. It does have a touching message about family and an interesting character story that opens itself up quite vulnerably towards the end, but the real question lies in whether or not the hour and a half of slow-moving and bland dialogue that leads up to it is truly worthwhile. Nebraska is a decent movie to see for anyone who has nothing better to do, but this one is probably not one to really set aside time for.
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