Monday, November 18, 2013

Lonesome Is The Best Way To Describe The Grays Of Nebraska

It's interesting to see how Alexander Payne chooses his themes. After his big time success with the "paradise isn't paradise" theme in The Descendants, he turned his focus to middle America and a location that has never once been referred to as a paradise of any kind.
Nebraska was a weird but engrossing journey. At the outset, it seemed as if the majority of the characters were going to be rather stubborn, intensely unlikable people. But as the film delved deeper, I came to understand at least two or three of those people and why it is they had become the way they were and lived the lives they had lived. There was a clearcut separation in my mind of what was a good person in this world and what was a bad person. And there seemed to be an incredibly painful, but awkwardly fulfilling message buried just below the surface that this place will take everyone sooner or later and there really is no getting out, but if you can hold on to who you really are, perhaps in the end you'll be rewarded with a more caring family than you thought you could know.
Granted all of this takes time to develop and I may be reading farther into this than what is necessary. But Nebraska flowed so strangely and gave me a lot of time within the stillness of its frames to ponder why the filmmaker wanted me to see these moments. While there seemed nothing but intense loneliness in the beginning something blossomed from that feeling. Something almost beautiful.
This was a strange role for Will Forte. Strange in that he didn't play strange at all. Usually I expect to see him do something out there and crazy, so it was nice and different to see him take a turn at something more down to earth and sincere. Bruce Dern was excellent and after seeing this it's uncanny to me that I haven't gotten to see him in a starring role in my lifetime. But when you're the guy who killed John Wayne in a movie... what do you expect? June Squibb was fun to watch albeit, we don't get as much of a chance with her character. She seemed to be more loudmouthed than anyone else in the film, yet I can honestly say I believed her. I've known of people like that. And I was happy to see Bob Odenkirk in limited time. Once again, it was strange to see him playing such a withdrawn character. Lastly, Stacy Keach did an excellent job as the silky terrible antagonist.
Alexander Payne's a strange director. I feel like every one of his films has been made with the intention of drawing as much awkward tension out of the audience as possible. Yet, somehow, I find myself appreciating that. His films are almost always great and they always seem to be making a point that is, at heart, greater than any one film can be. So I commend him for that.
Nebraska creates a black and white, wishy-washy world filled with vistas of unrecognized beauty.

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