Before I get into the actual review, I want to say that this makes 9 out of 9 seen of the movies nominated for Best Picture, this year. We've never managed to see them all ahead of the Oscars before. I'm not sure if we'll ever actually try to get them all in, again, the way we did this year. It just sort of worked out.
And it is subdued. Slow moving. And black-and-white, which adds to the subdued quality. I've been trying to figure out what the movie would be like in color, and I can't really imagine it that way. Color would change the tone of the movie, which is kind of weird to me, but I think it would. It would make it not quite so somber, and it needs the somberness, the sense of depression and desperation, to make it work.
Being black and white, though, it won't appeal to a lot of people (my daughter (and, yeah, she's just a kid, but I've known plenty of adults with the same attitude) refuses to watch b&w movies out of principle. The fact that it's slow, including scenes of people just sitting around not talking, will also make it unappealing to pretty sizable chunk of people. But some of those scenes of people just sitting, or sitting and watching football, reminded me of being a kid in East Texas, and those scenes really resonated with me which has caused me to continue to think about it even though it's not at all spectacular.
The other part of that is that the movie is not what it's about. On the surface it's a movie about an old guy that seems not quite all there trying to walk to Nebraska to pick up $1,000,000 that he thinks he's won, but it's not about that. I mean, it's not about growing old and losing your grasp on reality. It's about relationships and how we don't always know people as well as we think we do, even when those people are our parents.
The acting was great. I'm not sure Bruce Dern deserves the best actor nomination, but he was very good. He really sold the depression and desperation. Okay, maybe he does deserve the nomination. The role is so... normal; it makes it hard to tell. Will Forte was even better as his younger son, David. He brought the helplessness and exasperation to the role. They were great together. And Forte was also great with Bob Odenkirk who played his older brother. They had great chemistry. June Squib was frightening and hilarious as Woody's wife.
I'm going to hold myself back, at this point, and not talk about the relationships and family dynamics, because it would require all kinds of spoilers, and I think this is the kind of movie that each person should come to on his/her own, so to speak. It probably has something different to say to any given person based on what that person is bringing into it, like my resonance with the old men in my family sitting around, mostly silently, watching football.
This one probably won't appeal to a lot of people at the outset. There are no explosions, no gunfights, and no car chases. But, if you let yourself follow along, I think it's one you'll find yourself pondering at odd moments for weeks (or at least days) after you see it.