On the way Woody falls and suffers a gash to his head. In order to rest up for a couple of days he and his son end up at Woody’s sister’s place in the town he grew up in Nebraska. His wife and other son end up joining them there for an impromptu family reunion. The story takes on added tension when Dern’s family, friends, and former business partner think he’s just won a million dollars.
The difficult economic times come across quite clearly in the way the movie was shot. The barrenness and bleakness of the Great Plains stand out as people of the small town try to make ends meet. Sunshine, bright colors, and “amber waves of grain” are not part of the equation. The aura provides a “beautiful” undertone to the movie.
The reunion has all the aspects you would expect to see in a dysfunctional family but the coming together of Woody’s immediate family is uplifting. The dynamic between Woody and his son David is the most heartwarming but it is his wife Kate who ultimately proves that family is thicker than water. Actress June Squibb, who portrays Kate, steals the show and received an Oscar nomination as well.
What’s most pleasurable about “Nebraska” is that it’s an old-style film that could have been made at any time in the past. In the current era of futuristic, action-packed, earth-destroying special effects it’s refreshing to see a simple, straightforward character-based movie. Dern finally gets to play the “hero” and we are all rewarded for it.
David Kent is the director of the Village Library of Cooperstown. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.