Published Feb 25, 2014Although the majority of us see life in vibrant colour, a black and white movie has the ability to present life to us at its most plain and its most real. Alexander Payne's Nebraska features some of the most undeniably gorgeous black and white photography I've ever seen, which is definitely befitting of a story about a man entering the final stages of his life and struggling with the onset of dementia, on a road trip through dilapidated towns on the brink of extinction. It doesn't get much more real than that, folks.
Payne follows up his Oscar-winning film, The Descendants, with a decidedly smaller film, and one much less accessible at that. One Woody Grant (played earnestly and brilliantly by Bruce Dern who, at 77 years old, has finally found a role that allows him to showcase his trademark prickliness while still eliciting a sympathetic response from the audience). Woody believes he has won himself a million dollars through a mail-in sweepstakes sham and has made it his mission to get himself down to Lincoln, Nebraska so that he can collect his winnings (and get a little time away from the incessant bickering of his wife, Cate, played by the shockingly hilarious June Squibb). His youngest son, David (Will Forte), has agreed to take him, in part to keep him safe but more importantly to give his father a little adventure before it's too late for him to appreciate it anymore.
Payne knows people, and how to foster intimacy between the characters he presents on screen and the viewers who admire his work. That he presents them to you at vulnerable moments is what makes his films so endearing. Nebraska is no different.