Spiritual Journey Not Just for the Senior Set


Dern & Squibb

Perhaps the only other movie to film on the outskirts of Lincoln, Nebraska, is Boys Town with Mickey Rooney. Now comes the black and white feature entitled Nebraska, with Bruce Dern.

The film has all the echoes of another b&w movie called Hud that featured an old movie star named Melvyn Douglas. The colorless panoramas are the same, and the sense of smallness against the backdrop of unrelenting Nature remains.

Dern plays Woody, an old man with the fixation that he has won a million dollars in a lottery and must go to Lincoln to retrieve it. The trip is a Fool’s Errand, but his son Davey (Will Forte) agrees to humor the old reprobate and take him there out of pity.

Along the way of this spiritual journey, Woody’s son learns in a weekend more about his father than he thought he knew from 40 years of life.

Visits to Woody’s old hometown, old girlfriend, and family cemetery, are among the morsels to enlighten. When his wife, Kate (June Squibb), joins them, you have a hypnotic drama unfolding with masterly performances. Squibb steals every scene she appears in as the shrewish spouse.

Such stories always feature and old nemesis, and Dern’s is Stacey Keach, one of many who think they will take some of the old man’s million dollar winnings.

Dern’s old curmudgeon alcoholic teetering on the verge of Alzheimer’s Disease is a last grand performance in a long career of character villains. This time he wins the pathos award and has a brilliant capstone to his movie career.

You don’t have to be old or have elderly parents to appreciate this movie, but it will resonate all the more for a certain generation or two.

Directed by Alexander Payne.


If you enjoy the reviews of Ossurworld, be sure to read his latest collections:  DOCUMENTARY VERSUS DOCUDRAMA and MOVIES IN THE STREAM. Both collections of reviews are in softcover and ebook formats, especially for smart readers.

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