Nebraska: Blu Ray Review
Released by Roadshow Home Ent
In this film, Bruce Dern plays Woody Grant, an old man, who's been sent a letter saying that he's won a million dollars but will need to collect it from Nebraska. Determined to get there come hell or high water, Woody's son David (Will Forte) decides, on a whim, to help the old man out, knowing full well it's a scam.
But Woody's not the easiest of fathers - an alcoholic, ageing dad, whose distance from his son is never more pronounced than when they're on the road together. Throw into that mix, a road trip which includes family members and an old colleague of Woody's who believes he's owed money and it's clear that fractious times lie ahead.
Nebraska is a film which thrives on the understated and perfectly captured view of small town America.
Shot lavishly in black and white and with a sedentary pace as well as shots of mid-west America scattered throughout, Payne's created something remarkable that perfectly encapsulates the lifestyles of many living in places of its ilk. (It helps that Payne is from the region he's filming.)
There's an inherent sadness to Dern's near-silent cowed and stooping portrayal of Grant, a man whose life has been swilled in alcohol and who now finds himself permanently housed beneath a white shock of hair, teetering on the edge of dementia. But there's humour and stubbornness to in his belief that the million dollars he's been promised will come true; it's a bittersweet belief that sustains this road trip, binds him inexorably to his son as the journey continues.
However, it's his occasionally irascible and naive interaction with others and a sense of self-belief that comes to the fore on the screen. Nowhere is this more evident than with his interaction with the bullying Stacy Keach's Ed Pegram, a former colleague who's now desperate to claw back some borrowed money. Along with the straight man Will Forte, there's a tenderness as this plays out its inevitable path.
But this is not a film about a cranky old man and hilarity therefrom - this is a movie dripping in poignancy and drenched in the details of family lives that all of us share and all of us will recognise; from the family gathering in the front room around the TV talking about nothing, to the ties that bind fathers and sons together.
It feels as if Payne's film-making and story are from experience this time around and there's a naturalness which pervades the movie that's hard to deny and difficult not to revel in. Sure, you could argue that in this day and age, who's going to believe a scam like that, but in mid-western America, populated as it is with family squabbling over the trivial minutiae, this film is packed with insight - Nebraska is completely watchable, affecting and utterly engaging.
Extras: Making of