In the land of the free, the middle class is free to descend into poverty and homelessness rather quickly. One bad divorce, a factory closing, medical bills, and poof, you are as free as you never wanted to be.
“Nomadland”, a highly-acclaimed film, purports to shed some light on the lives of those folks living in RVs, vans and anything in between, moving from wrapping your Amazon packages to flipping burgers, from selling Christmas trees to harvesting sugar beets, never earning enough to rent a home, let alone buy one.
This is an important subject, worthy of a good film. Sadly, despite all its accolade and praise, “Nomadland” does a lousy job. So bad that if the film was one of these minimum-wage workers, it would have been fired on the second day on the job.
The day-to-day struggle of the nomads – cold, hunger, health, fuel costs, safety, being driven away when they just want to sleep – are only touched upon briefly. The film spends much more time showing sunrises and sunsets and a van driving down a winding road in Nevada, as if it was all one glorious road trip.
Once, there was a sentence about the cost of housing, but nothing about the inherent unfairness of unlimited private property of very limited land. But then, one of the old drifters gets to say something esoteric about freedom and friendship and stuff. As kitschy as “Eat Pray Love”, but filmed among the poor. Like poverty porn, for the well-off to enjoy and to think: “Well, those people chose to live like that.”
And even if you don’t expect what I expect from a movie about a pressing social issue, you are in for a terribly boring two hours.
The film is based on the book “Nomadland” by Jessica Bruder, and from the interviews I have heard with her, it seems the book is heaps better than the movie.
What did you think? And what films/books do you recommend on homelessness and poverty? I still think that “Grapes of Wrath” is one of the best.