‘Nomadland’ recently won a slew of awards including the 2021 Best Picture Oscar. That may mean nothing to a jaded few whilst others have hailed it due to its themes and performances. Living a nomadic existence, whether by accident or design, draws fascination for some. The idea may feel very tempting as a way of escaping the increasingly frenetic pace in which the world lives. ‘Nomadland’ shows a different side to this notion as its reluctant wanderers searchi for answers.

Following the economic collapse of her town, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs up her belongings and travels the American West in a van. Wanting to break free of everyday society, she roams the land exploring life. She meets other nomads such as Dave (David Strathairn) and Linda (Linda May). They change Fern’s outlook and alter her future in ways she couldn’t have imagined.

Directing from her own script, Chloe Zhao crafts an interesting essay of a different lifestyle. Creating a new life from the remnants of the old, the nomads in her story have various reasons for doing so. Not all are economic, with emotional and physical scars guiding the restless spirits away from their troubles. This aspect makes ‘Nomadland’ engrossing viewing. Unfortunately the screenplay meanders into other directions taking away from the film’s power. ‘Nomadland’ doesn’t quite have the courage of its convictions in seeing the story through to a logical conclusion.

The biggest issue ‘Nomadland’ faces is how its main character is presented. Despite McDormand giving yet another solid performance, her character is difficult to connect with. Her stand-offish demeanour makes it hard to feel much sympathy. Coupled with several slow patches and occasionally unfocussed narrative, ‘Nomadland’ is less than it should be. A plus is the cinematography which perfectly captures the vast landscape as the wild, dusty vistas envelop those determined to forge another path.

Despite its structural flaws, ‘Nomadland’ becomes fascinating when examining the nomad’s unique world. It almost makes a persuasive case for discarding modern life and drifting into calmer waters. Given the amount of awards won, it has resonated with many who desire a sea-change with a difference.

Rating out of 10: 6


The Tourist

Like many films, ‘The Tourist’ heavily relies on locations. Setting the story somewhere interesting elevates even the most poorly written script. With scenes mainly shot in Paris and Venice, ‘The Tourist’ promises a visual feast. It does well showing off those two locales at their best. Although not perfect, ‘The Tourist’ backs up the visuals with a solid romantic thriller embracing those genres with ease.

Ellise (Angelina Jolie) is being followed by Scotland Yard Inspector Acheson (Paul Bettany) and dangerous gangster Shaw (Steven Berkoff). Under the command of Chief Inspector (Timothy Dalton), Acheson must follow Ellise so he can capture her lover, a wanted fugitive who has stolen a fortune. Unwittingly embroiled in this is timid Maths teacher Frank (Johnny Depp). All isn’t as it seems with double cross and skulduggery the order of the day.

A remake of a 2005 French movie, ‘The Tourist’ is consistently enjoyable. Its most important ingredient is the lead’s chemistry. Although Depp hasn’t exactly made a career out of being a romantic hero, he does well along with Jolie. Both generate the necessary sparks even if more depth could have been given to their characters. The same could be said of their co-stars who don’t have much to work with in their roles but bring a sense of engaged fun anyway.

The locations make ‘The Tourist’ shine. You get a true sense of scale in the Venice scenes, with its ancient canals creating much atmosphere. It works as a romance with a few thrills thrown in with the sole big action set-piece memorable. The surprises are genuine as the viewer is forced to navigate the twists ‘The Tourist’ relies on. Its glossy, scenic look brings a style all its own ensuring that slow moments are few.

‘The Tourist’ is a very light caper not taxing heavily on the brain cells. It provides fun escapism in a glamorous setting effectively taking your mind off things for a few hours. Films like these shouldn’t be shunned as it saves plenty of dollars for those wanting to be a tourist from their lounge rooms as its characters walk amongst stylish landscapes.

Rating out of 10: 6