Bruce Dern, Will Forte
June Squibb, Stacy Keach
This latest offering from director Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) is shot entirely in black and white. It features his home state Nebraska as the background to a simple yet deeply poignant story about the road trip of one family.
The elderly Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) receives a letter informing him that he won a million dollars in some sweepstakes marketing promotion. Driven by his desire to provide a 'legacy' to his family, he is intent on claiming the prize even though his son David (Will Forte) keeps telling him it is a scam and he hasn't won anything. But as anyone who has ever dealt with an elderly parent knows, they can be pretty stubborn when they have set their mind on something and slowly obsession takes over. So I truly admired David for being kind enough to go along with his father's 'fantasy' by driving him across states to claim the prize.
What ensues is an entertaining road trip where father and son get to bond together. Here lies the beauty of "Nebraska" as the scenery changes with every state (even though it is clearly in black and white frames). Their encounters with the residents of Woody's home town also provide some humorous moments. All of them 'excited' to have a millionaire in their midst.
The ensemble cast composed of professional and non pro actors all mix together to provide a realistic view of life in the Midwest. Led by Bruce Dern, his characterization of Woody is tragic yet funny. In the ultimate scene when he does find out that he in fact did not win anything, my heart was broken into pieces. His silent resignation that he was not a millionaire played out beautifully sans hysteria but his crestfallen facial expressions revealed his true sentiments.
June Squibb as his wife Kate absolutely cracked me up with her obscenities and foul language. Her believable performance also provided most of the laughs, albeit in a deadpan sense of humour way.
Once again, Payne truly delivers with yet another laid back story of ordinary people facing major changes in their lives. "Nebraska" offers just the right blend of humour and drama that pulls at your heartstrings. Further elevated by the raw and highly emotional acting talent of its cast. A highly recommended film!