It’s been a few weeks now since I saw Nebraska, Alexander Payne’s monochrome comedy-drama and I didn’t originally intend to write about it. But of all the films I’ve seen in the last couple of months, it’s the one that has stayed with me the longest. Nebraska stars Bruce Dern as Woody, a grouchy old man whose moments of lucidity are swamped by his seemingly frail mind. Woody receives a sweepstakes letter which tells him of a million dollar prize win which he is determined to collect in person. Despite warnings from his family that the prize is bogus, Woody is undeterred and eventually his son David (Will Forte) agrees to drive across country to Lincoln, Nebraska with his father to pick up the winnings. Along the way the pair stops in Woody’s small hometown where he reconnects with the past.
At this late stage in 2013, Nebraska stands as one of the best films I’ve seen all year. It’s an absolute delight, merging neo-realism with caricature in a way that I’ve rarely witnessed before. It manages to be both grounded but quirky, serious and flippant and focuses in the everyday side of America rarely featured in Hollywood films. The characters don’t moan about money while living in mansions or complain about their dream jobs, these are Middle Americans, dealing with normal issues and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.