Directed by: Alexander Payne
Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Stacy Keach, June Squibb and Bob Odenkirk
Don’t let the fact that this was shot in black and white fool you. Nebraska is filled with color and painted with a brush held by Alexander Payne. The movie definitely lives up to expectations from the director that has given us such wonderful films such as Sideways and The Descendents.
Nebraska is about a man who has nothing to live for, outside of the alcohol he’s always put first in his life, a complaining wife, Kate, (June Squibb) and two sons, David (Will Forte) and Ross (Bob Odenkirk). The years haven’t been kind to him but now he finds happiness with a dream. He chases the dream to Nebraska where a sweepstakes letter in the mail tells him he’s won a million dollars and if he goes to their offices, he can claim his fortune.
Bruce Dern plays Woody, who thinks he’s now rich and must hurry to collect his winnings. Seeing his addle minded father hoofing it, David decides to take him on this crazy road trip because Woody will not listen to reason and is going with or without him. David would prefer his father be safe with him than finding he’s gone forever to who knows where.
On their way to secure this non-existent prize, David takes Woody to his hometown of Hawthorne, and it doesn’t take long for Woody to spread the word of his winnings. Woody eats up the attention he receives which brings out the worst in him… and in others. Believing Woody’s story, family members and old friends come out of the woodwork to claim a stake in what Woody is about to have, based on old deals or broken promises. The movie is shot across four states and is about the Heartland as much as it is about Woody and David's adventure. It’s shot in a way that will leave you pondering, “How do small towns subsist in such harsh times?” What unfolds is not only what has already been mentioned, but you observe Woody learn what’s more important than money and you witness David see his father as a good man with real faults, not as the boozer who raised him.
This is a brilliant film. If it’s playing near you, I strongly recommend you see it. Bruce Dern’s performance is intoxicating and one not to be missed.
For Phoenix: NEBRASKA opens Friday, November 22nd exclusively at Harkins Camelview.