Film Review: Nebraska

So, I finally saw Nebraska, and holy shit…there is such an overwhelming sadness, mediocrity and desperation to this film, that if you don’t leave motivated to live your life to the fullest, then you are already dead inside.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this film other than Bruce Dern as sort of an eccentric old man on an adventure to chase his pot of gold. And it most certainly is that; but the heart and soul of Nebraska is just how well it expresses such an accepting finality/hopelessness to life and the human urgency/desperation to have some sort of legacy.

Bruce Dern is brilliant and tragic as Woody, an average man, who after receiving a Publishers Clearing House type of letter in the mail claiming he’s won a million dollars, begins his desperate trek from Montana to Nebraska to collect his fortune. His journey is so important to him, that he dismisses his families pleas not to go and their nay saying that it’s all a scam, yet he persists, sometimes on foot. After realizing that he won’t stop, his home theater salesman son David (Will Forte), finally concedes to take his father to claim his “prize” under the compromise that they make a detour to visit some relatives on the way. Soon the story gets out that he’s a millionaire and everyone begins to want something from him.

It’s almost painful to look at Bruce Dern in this film. Woody is disheveled, borderline senile, beaten down by life and it’s unbearably sad. His journey is all that he has left. If there was ever any doubt that Bruce Dern is a tremendous actor, then his performance in Nebraska will surely negate that argument.

As sad as this film is, the humor is frequent and ironically stems from the very same sad, mediocrity of every character involved. Woody’s wife Kate (June Squibb), offers a majority of the laughs with her inability to bite her tongue when speaking (often ill) of others. It is honest and refreshing to see a character who speaks so unfiltered, as it is typical for most people to shy away from sensitive subjects that while true, would likely offend the involved parties.

I don’t believe that a film has ever had such an impact on me quite like Nebraska has. I walked out of the theater more determined than ever to go after everything I want in life. I’ve always believed that there is nothing more tragic than living a life of mediocrity and regret. Nebraska should be mandatory viewing for anyone who needs some motivation to get out there and do something worthwhile with their remaining days.

-Sock Talk Jon-

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