Nebraska: Film Review

Nebraska: Film Review
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Charles Bukowski said: ‘Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.’

This might be the case with Alexander Payne’s 2013 American black-and-white road comedy-drama: Nebraska. A CGI and colour free zone it relies instead on character relationships, and real life chances taken and lost.

Sentimental from the off-set, we see Dern’s character is stripped back too. With end of years frailty taking hold, he looks for purpose, legacy and something to leave behind where there’s nothing. He has a brutal and beautiful realness. There’s a curtness that comes from a person in these bitter last few days. As a life-hardened and drained old septuagenarian he carries the plot with fire in his eyes. Dern is this part; both in voice and aesthetic. Even his hair shows a bitter honesty that comes with realising your end of days and life’s hard journey.

There’s a bleak lonely emptiness throughout. No one gets along or interacts in a seen closeness. There’s no room for smiles, hugs or caresses. Their lives are unhappy as we observe a real pointlessness in them and their realisation of it. This is like eaves dropping on a family fight with the resulting heavy silence that follows. As past resentments and baggage are laid bare it’s a perfect balance of cringe-worthiness and laughs.

Like in Payne’s ‘Sideways’, there’s humour in the beautiful spaces he creates between exchanges and in harsh realities of  life. Alcoholism, possible PTSD and Alzheimer’s are used as personality traits without dominating the character play and relationships. Instead, Payne’s themes on relationships between people, each other and their alcohol, show it both enhancing and deteriorating in equal measure. It exposes, digests and airs resulting issues again and again in raw exchanges and insights, sad and laughable in their realism.

Towards the end, the closing scene instills beautifully both a tear and a smile, held in perfect poetic balance.

 

Nebraska was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where Dern won the Best Actor Award and was also nominated for six Academy AwardsBest PictureBest DirectorBest Actor for Dern, Best Supporting Actress for Squibb, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

John Bowie

About John Bowie

John’s writing is a semi-autobiographical mix of dirty realism, crime fiction and noir. Ghostly references to a heritage that includes the Vikings, Scotland, Ireland and the North of England flavour the words throughout, often with a dark but humoured edge. His short stories have been published on Bristol Noir, Dead Mans Tome and and have been shortlisted for the Storgy Flash Fiction prize. ‘Untethered’, his first book in the Black Viking P.I. series, is out now with Bristol Noir. He grew up on the coast in rural Northumberland, a region steeped with a history of battles, Vikings, wars and struggles. These tales and myths fascinated him as a child, and then as an adult. In the mid to late nineties he studied in Salford enjoying the bands, music, clubs and general urban industrial-ness of Greater Manchester, including the club scene and the infamous Hacienda. He was also there when the IRA bomb went off in 1996. Although inspired partly by 50s pulp hard-boiled detective fiction and the beat generation authors and poets, John aims to celebrate his female characters from his real life through his writing, whilst retaining the hard drinking, cynical honesty and accessible writing style of these genres. John now lives in Bristol with his wife and daughter, where he has been since the late nineties. He is a professional designer, artist and writer as well as a proud husband, father, brother and son. Reviews: 'Set in 1998 in Bristol, England, Bowie’s dark, hard-edged crime novel inaugurates a promising series.’ – Publishers Weekly ‘Noir fans will find a lot to like.’ – BookLife ‘John Bowie’s ’90s set Untethered is a violent and intense read. Lyrical, moody, funny and as gritty as hell, Untethered is like a British blend of Jim Thompson and Nelson Algren.’ – Paul D. Brazill, author of Guns of Brixton ‘I would definitely recommend this crime novel and John Bowie as an author, and look forward to reading his next book.’ – Amanda Brightman, STORGY Publishers Weekly’s full review of Untethered: http://tinyurl.com/y7dsgec7 STORGY'S full review of Untethered: http://tinyurl.com/y3ovqsc5

John’s writing is a semi-autobiographical mix of dirty realism, crime fiction and noir. Ghostly references to a heritage that includes the Vikings, Scotland, Ireland and the North of England flavour the words throughout, often with a dark but humoured edge. His short stories have been published on Bristol Noir, Dead Mans Tome and and have been shortlisted for the Storgy Flash Fiction prize. ‘Untethered’, his first book in the Black Viking P.I. series, is out now with Bristol Noir. He grew up on the coast in rural Northumberland, a region steeped with a history of battles, Vikings, wars and struggles. These tales and myths fascinated him as a child, and then as an adult. In the mid to late nineties he studied in Salford enjoying the bands, music, clubs and general urban industrial-ness of Greater Manchester, including the club scene and the infamous Hacienda. He was also there when the IRA bomb went off in 1996. Although inspired partly by 50s pulp hard-boiled detective fiction and the beat generation authors and poets, John aims to celebrate his female characters from his real life through his writing, whilst retaining the hard drinking, cynical honesty and accessible writing style of these genres. John now lives in Bristol with his wife and daughter, where he has been since the late nineties. He is a professional designer, artist and writer as well as a proud husband, father, brother and son. Reviews: 'Set in 1998 in Bristol, England, Bowie’s dark, hard-edged crime novel inaugurates a promising series.’ – Publishers Weekly ‘Noir fans will find a lot to like.’ – BookLife ‘John Bowie’s ’90s set Untethered is a violent and intense read. Lyrical, moody, funny and as gritty as hell, Untethered is like a British blend of Jim Thompson and Nelson Algren.’ – Paul D. Brazill, author of Guns of Brixton ‘I would definitely recommend this crime novel and John Bowie as an author, and look forward to reading his next book.’ – Amanda Brightman, STORGY Publishers Weekly’s full review of Untethered: http://tinyurl.com/y7dsgec7 STORGY'S full review of Untethered: http://tinyurl.com/y3ovqsc5

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