LiveWire Review/Nebraska

LiveWire Film Critic Georgia Buckley reviews Nebraska

Nebraska follows the story of Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) a 77-year-old man, struggling with dementia and living with a typically dysfunctional family. His story begins when he receives a letter in the post telling him he is the winner of $1 million, and with this he decides to venture on the long, long journey from his home in Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he believes that he can receive his $1 million in winnings from a magazine distributor. His son David eventually agrees to take his father on this trip to allow him to realise his fantasy of chasing the American dream. Although the plot is centered on this adventure across America, the true heart-wrenching story lies with the bond between Woody and his son David (Will Forte) which develops as the trip proceeds and they begin to finally understand each other; it truly is a touching journey to watch.

The new adventure film is Alexander Payne’s most recent creation and it is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the director and never, in my opinion, has one of his films looked so impressive. It has many of the classic themes associated with Payne’s previous movies such as The Descendants and Sideways; families, growing old, learning about yourself – these are some of the aspects I believe are what makes his films so likeable. It’s because we can relate to them, just as many of us will relate to Nebraska.

The cinematography at times is absolutely stunning due to the simplicity of some of the shots and the superb score by Mark Orton made the film a joy to watch. At times though it felt somewhat slow-paced due to the long, lengthy black and white shots. However, I think to a certain extent this type of stylistic approach was used rather effectively as it reflects the classic Hollywood era which links to the lusted after American dream so many people are desperate for, this is shown through all characters in the movie from Woody himself to the majority of his crazy family.

The cast is mainly what makes the film so watchable, although they are not mainstream actors they execute their roles perfectly. Bruce Dern gives a spectacular performance as Woody, possibly one of the best performances of his career!

June Squibb played Grant’s wife, Kate – she was fantastic as she provided a lot of very comical, laugh out loud moments which was a great contrast with some of the dark satire comedy in the film.

I would definitely recommend this film, it is unmistakably an Alexander Payne picture, so if you have liked his previous films you are sure to enjoy this too!

Nebraska (15) screens at Cornerhouse until Thu 19 Dec. Book your tickets and watch the trailer here.