MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Parmount Pictures
Directed by Alexander Payne. Starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte
Woody Grant (Dern) is an old man, getting older every day, and stubborn enough to begin an odyssey to Lincoln, Nebraska to pick up a million dollar check that he believes is being awarded to him by a promotional company. Woody’s mind doesn’t seem to be as clear as it used to be and Woody has a lifetime of alcoholism that often insinuates itself into his marriage and family; he hasn’t been an easy person to live with or like. But blood is thicker than water and Woody’s two sons David (Forte) and Ross (Bob Odenkirk) and his wife Kate (June Squibb) continue to stick together, although they are of different mindsets about what to do with him. Ross is ready to put Dad into a nursing home and Kate thinks Woody is “a dumb cluck”, but David would like to humor the old man and drive him to Nebraska. David’s job as a home entertainment system salesperson isn’t going anywhere and his girlfriend has just broken up with him, so why not take a few days off to spend time with Dad?
Their journey finds a way station in their hometown of Hawthorne, Nebraska, where Woody and David can stay with relatives and catch up with the past while dreaming about the future. The town itself is like so many mid-sized Midwest locales: bereft of jobs and younger adults, but filled with memories as well as regrets. Woody meets up with a former business partner (Stacy Keach) whom he had a falling out with years ago. In time, both Kate and Ross will arrive to add to the family reunion.
Nebraska is a small film filled with memorable performances, smiles and tears. As Woody is motivated to move towards an uncertain future, his memories of the past are equally elusive. The black and white cinematography is used to great effect to evoke feelings of nostalgia.
Nebraska is never maudlin or preachy, and the ending of the movie is beautiful and hopeful. Take time to seek this movie out and discover its charms for yourself.
Four halos: A gentle comedy about reconciliation and understanding late in life.
One pitchfork: Some swearing, quite a bit of alcohol consumption, mild sexual innuendo.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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