Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Thanks to Nebraska, I am no longer allowed to choose the movies we go to see. I read about the film in The Economist - the last time I ever trust their film reviewer - and persuaded others in my household that we were going to have a really great night out.

Hah. How in heaven's name did this film win the Palme d'Or at Cannes? Okay some of the rural scenes and characters were uncanny contemporary embodiments of American Gothic, but is that really such a great achievement? Especially when you set against it the fact that the acting is terrible, the script is heavy-handed - the mother's character, particularly in the scene in the graveyard, appears to be the product of a deep loathing of women - and nothing that might be spelt out is not spelt out.

There were a few laughs, it's true - I liked the sight of the two brothers racing out of a barn with a stolen compressor. On the other hand, a lot of the attempts at humour struck me as mere sneers from the creative classes at the proletariat. The sequence in which Bruce Dern drives like a ghost down the main street of his home town was rather lovely and oddly eery; I will admit that as well. But it wasn't enough.

Leaving aside the lousy acting, (maybe it was deliberate and everyone but us understood that it was some kind of mannerism, and not just embarrassingly amateur???), and the script that slammed home its points with disrespectful force, the trouble for me was twofold and oddly paradoxical. First, the film fancied itself as a critique of American capitalism - in the same subtle way that Stalinist era movies did. Second, its conclusion affirmed the universal healing powers of Ford trucks.

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