by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent
On an insider Hollywood level, Nancy Utley from Searchlight has one of the best creative executive reputations in the business, not only for producing thought-provoking and risky content, but for encouraging filmmakers to explore complicated themes to best outcomes.
Now Utley has brought NOMADLAND to the screen, starring Frances McDormand, and this film has been given a festival launch that underscores the power of this Chloe Zhao-directed picture.
Venice and Toronto double World Premieres; Telluride Film Festival hosting a “Telluride from Los Angeles” drive-in screening, plus the New York Film Festival including this picture as a Centerpiece Selection of 58th Edition.
That said, Oscar winner Frances McDormand at the center of this film, has put her talent to good use since her debut 36 years ago in1984’s BLOOD SIMPLE.
“Blood simple” was coined from crime icon Dashiell Hammett, specifically his book “Red Harvest,” meaning the numb PTSD state a person exhibits after prolonged exposure to violence and unresolved discord. McDormand, who broke ground as indelible characters in FARGO and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI to name a few, takes this PTSD state one step further in NOMADLAND.
From Sundance award-winning director Chloe Zhao, this film incorporates actual peripatetic elder gig workers on the endless hunt-and-peck to scratch a living in a fractured America. In a future so uncertain that this band of seniors find themselves “unhomed,” these nomadic journeys over the less-than-silk road make up the bonds of America’s displaced senior class. Her third screen gem, Zhao’s newest can be seen at TIFF through Sept. 20 in festival screening rotation.
NOMADLAND’s Jessica Bruder is an author to keep on your reading radar, as she is not only a storied award winner herself, but a thoughtful voice on the literary landscape right now. You can find out more here about this extraordinarily insightful writer.
Where McDormand takes her character ‘Fern’ in this feature, which is adapted from Jessica Bruder’s challenging book of the same name, is as yet unknown. Yet when it’s released to the public in December? NOMADLAND may just be one of the defining films of 2020.
Essentially McDormand has become Everyman as a woman on screen. One other thing is certain about this Coen Bros discovery decades on, with her 2021 slate from a journalism inspired comedy to a screen production of MacBeth, Frances McDormand continues to learn and grow, and challenge all viewers along her path.
Watch Everyman, as a Woman, in Frances McDormand
Keep a side-mirror eye out for NOMADLAND, Dec. 4, from Searchlight Pictures.
Photo credit: Todd Gray (Jessica Bruder image)
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