In her latest tour-de-force, Frances McDormand sets out as Fern to conquer the American West in Nomadland, and our first full look is here.
Few films manage to capture the magic of what it means to be a true Outsider. Director Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, however, looks to be one. Already hailed as a “masterpiece” after winning the top prize at several film festivals, the film – based on Jessica Bruder’s book of the same name – follows protagonist Fern as she “sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad.”
Forging the heart of the film as Fern is iconic Academy Award-winning actor Frances McDormand. Known for both electric and authentic performances, McDormand is aided within Nomadland by real-life nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells. Each serves as Fern’s mentor and companion in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.
While this sounds like a dream to many of us Outsiders, Fern’s decision to escape into the West is led by tragedy. Past trauma, chiefly the death of her husband, fuels her transformation into a modern nomad. But it’s the decimation of her hometown’s economy after a modern financial crisis that truly sets her off on a path of rediscovery.
Frances McDormand Soars in NOMADLAND
Presently, fans of the actress and Americana filmmaking can watch a full look into the masterful film. Deep, ethereal, and moody – the trailer does an exceptional job of setting the tone for what looks to be an unforgettable experience.
“I’m not homeless,” McDormand’s Fern tells a young girl early in the trailer. “I’m just houseless. Not the same thing, right?”
It’s the smile her new friend gives after this quote, however, that immediately sells the bonds to be forged in Nomadland. The preview is full of these moments – glimpses into unique, brilliant connections that Fern forges across the American West.
To this end, Chloé Zhao pulled from her own soul-searching for fuel. “I always used to make that joke that when you feel a bit lost, you go west,” the film’s director tells Entertainment Weekly. “That’s sort of a historic movement that people do. There’s that pioneer spirit of that land, and it’s also full of tension in a way. It feels both new and old because it’s now predominantly farmland,” she clarifies.
“There’s something about that piece of landscape in a country that’s so young, and the things we talk about are so of today. To escape into the heartland and the American West is a very rejuvenating experience for me every time I go. I just feel like I’m part of something bigger,” Zhao continues.
As this preview showcases, Zhao has done a brilliant job at funneling this feeling into her work. And with the untouchable talent of Frances McDormand as a conduit, Nomadland is sure to become a benchmark.
Nomadland, which co-stars David Strathairn alongside Frances McDormand, releases Feb. 19 courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.