maxberger’s review published on Letterboxd:
Having finally watched Nomadland, I'm shocked by the ubiquitous and sweeping praise I've seen. The movie looks very pretty sometimes, yes (when it's not gracing us with long takes of urination and diarrhea). But it's a pretentious, patronizing, insulting disaster.
I don't know how anyone can stand to watch Frances McDormand (net worth $30 million) stand around and react sympathetically to the stories of actual impoverished people for 2 hours, while in real life she sues her neighbors over property line disputes at her coastal California house (not to be confused with her other house in NYC). At one point Frances declares to another woman "we be the bitches of the badlands,” someone who is not even aware that she’s being conned by a wealthy actress playing dress-up. It’s cringe on several levels at once.
This is the most insidious kind of masturbatory Oscar bait, trussed up in a loose-fitting Terrence Malick costume like one of Buffalo Bill’s skin suits. And despite its relevant and important subject matter, it has nothing meaningful to say except some cliché kindergarten tripe about the difference between a house and a home.
I've done some research and learned that the driving force behind this film's creation was, big surprise, Frances McDormand herself. She had already developed a Kerouac-inspired retirement fantasy about changing her name to 'Fern' and hitting the road (eye roll), and then she read the book this was based on and the rest is history.
In fact, Frances was the one who made a deal with the devil (Amazon) to film inside one of their warehouses in exchange for a completely uncritical depiction of their role in perpetuating the poverty that Nomadland shines a light on. This particular condition of the deal has not been confirmed by anyone as far as I know, but... I mean c'mon. Read between the lines. The original book does not hesitate to criticize Amazon at all. The film, on the other hand, makes deliberate, specific choices that paint Amazon as a great place to work. It’s pretty awkward, especially considering recent events in Alabama. It obscures the film’s point and converts a well-intentioned misfire into a deep betrayal.
Quote from Frances: “It was right before they started giving people $15 an hour. This was a really smart move for them because … we are telling a story about a person who is benefiting from hard work, and working at the Amazon fulfillment center is hard work, but it pays a wage.”
Oh, is that what the movie is really about Frances? Telling a story about a person who is benefitting from hard work?