Nomadland wants to be a film about precarity and poverty, but it is in fact a film about Frances McDormand’s skill as an actor.
Shonni Enelow’s short essay “Toil and Trouble” written for Film Comment’s email newsletter captures precisely what I felt after watching Nomadland. I was constantly aware of McDormand the actor and was left unconvinced by the film’s muddle of narrative conventions.1 By pressing on how Shakespeare is narrowly invoked, Enelow offers a refreshing read of the filmmakers’ blindness to their own participation in the inequalities and exploitation they hope to reveal and subvert.
Representation is hard.
- I would have preferred the essayistic film grammar and Brechtian artifice of Godard, though that is likely still too much for the Academy to swallow. ↩