Sunday Movie Review – Nomadland

Sunday Movie Review – Nomadland with Frances McDormand.

I often watch movies or series that deal with the human condition. This movie was a perfect study specimen. Frances McDormand plays Fern, a woman whose life has been uprooted after the death of her husband and the loss of her home due to the Great Recession. Strength of character is what captures my attention, and in this movie, McDormand proves she’s worthy of all the accolades this film received.


A somewhat melancholy and disturbing movie, but a good educational watch. Frances McDormand as Fern is just one of the ‘victims’ caught up in the carnage in 2011 after the financial crash when many Americans lost their homes. Fern becomes a van-dwelling woman in her 60s who leaves her town of Empire, Nevada, where her and her husband had lived and worked. He died, and the plant shut down. And with no insurance and not enough income to live on, she was a senior, forced to leave the home she could no longer afford to keep.

Fern ventured out of her company town in rural Nevada in her van to explore a life outside of conventional society – a modern day nomad. As it turned out, many other seniors did the same thing after that crisis. Fern packed all she could into her white van and traveled cross country to various RV parks on her journey across America to discover where she should plant herself and call home. Along the way she does various odd jobs to make a paycheck, quite a few of them as temporary warehouse worker for Amazon, and makes friends like herself along the way. It’s the stories told by some of these people that will take us in.

This movie features real people portraying themselves as some of the nomads in the film. And their real names were listed in the credits. Three people in particular became Fern’s mentors, as they knew the lifestyle well – Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells were Fern’s mentors and comrades through her exploration driving through the American West. Besides McDormand playing Fern and David Strathairn playing Dave, most of the cast were real RVers.


Quote from Bob: “One of the things I love most about this life is that there’s no final goodbye. You know, I’ve met hundreds of people out here and I don’t ever say a final goodbye. I always just say, I’ll see you down the road. And I do. And whether it’s a month, or a year, or sometimes years, I see them again.”

Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells were Fern’s mentors (and essentially, Frances McDormand’s) and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.”  The IMDB movie reviewer sight quotes the movie’s description, ” A woman in her sixties, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.”


The inspiration for Chloé Zhao’s celebrated film starring Frances McDormand, winner of the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress

March and April pick for the PBS Newshour-New York Times “Now Read This” Book Club

New York Times bestseller


“People who thought the 2008 financial collapse was over a long time ago need to meet the people Jessica Bruder got to know in this scorching, beautifully written, vivid, disturbing (and occasionally wryly funny) book.” —Rebecca Solnit


The movie is dubbed as ‘Surviving America in the 21st century’.

After movie credits stated: ‘Dedicated to those who had to depart.’


The movie won a few academy awards, three of which were to McDormand’s credit – Best Actor, Best Producer (McDormand also produced it), and Best Picture.


Other awards the movie took:

American Film Institute Awards February 26, 2021. Won.

American Film Institute Awards February 26, 2021. Won.

The Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival

People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival


The original book was written as an investigative look at what happened after the carnage of the 2008 financial crisis, by Jessica Bruder, garnering almost 7000 reviews. It’s now on my reading list:




From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. Finding that social security comes up short, often underwater on mortgages, these invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads.


On frequently traveled routes between seasonal jobs, Jessica Bruder meets people from all walks of life: a former professor, a McDonald’s vice president, a minister, a college administrator, and a motorcycle cop, among many others—including her irrepressible protagonist, a onetime cocktail waitress, Home Depot clerk, and general contractor named Linda May.


In a secondhand vehicle she christens “Van Halen,” Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more intimately. Accompanying Linda May and others from campground toilet cleaning to warehouse product scanning to desert reunions, then moving on to the dangerous work of beet harvesting, Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy—one that foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, she celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these quintessential Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive. Like Linda May, who dreams of finding land on which to build her own sustainable “Earthship” home, they have not given up hope.


Has anyone here seen the movie or read the book yet? What did you think?