THOMASEMMET’s review published on Letterboxd:
I started this film when it was nominated and from the start I knew I wasn’t enjoying it as much as Promising Young Woman, Minari or Sound of Metal.
Having finished it I hold a stronger version of that view. It’s a very well intentioned movie and I don’t begrudge it any of its awards (except possibly best actress). But it’s pretty tame and the docu/drama mix is jarring at times- Fern tells a fictional sad story and then another character tells a true very sad story and the effect is lost. It’s lack of politics might work for a documentary but here it seems toothless. It may be McDormand’s quietest role but it’s far from her best. America looks forlorn and dusky in exactly the way I like to see it.
Ultimately I’m glad the film exists and I can see why it appealed to the Academy, but it chooses to focus on grief rather than institutional failure that has led to some of the isolation it portrays, and that’s the easier answer.