Great performances and good writing make Alexander Payne’s Nebraska and enjoyable affair.
Woody Grant is an ageing alcoholic who is convinced that he has won a $1 million through a magazine marketing scheme. His family try to dissuade him, but it is up to his son David to take him from Montana to Nebraska…
Nebraska is an interesting exploration of a father-son relationship through the device of a road trip. The relationship is layered, which makes the story more engaging.
As David takes the opportunity to get to know his father, a man of few words, it is clear that there a number of sides to Woody. Payne’s previous films have concentrated on close relationships, and Nebraska is no different. The father-son dynamic is further complicated with the input from mother Kate and other members of the extended family.
Nebraska has a few bumps in its journey, although it never fully deviates from David’s quest to understand his father better. Although the outcome seems rather clear from the outset, the film is all about the journey, which throws up some interesting situations. The end of Nebraska is likely to put a smile on all viewers’ faces.
The deadpan comedy is frequent, and often hilarious. There are some moments of real poignancy, especially in the second half of the film. Payne seems to have a natural ability to switch between humour and drama.
Bruce Dern is fantastic as Woody. Will Forte also gives a convincing performance as David. The soundtrack is fitting for a road movie, whilst the decision to film in black and white gives the film a stripped back feel.
Nebraska is likely to endear itself to viewers with its engaging protagonists, entertaining story and frequent laughs.
Nebraska is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.