In the last few months I have been unable to attend the U3A screenings at the Lexi but this week I managed to see Nebraska. I usually do not comment on films after a first viewing and I thought that a second viewing would permit me to write about Kate, the old woman in the film. (June Squibb was nominated for the Oscars as best supporting actress). I went armed with pen and paper to take notes. Soon these proved to be useless as I became more and more aware of the complexity of this seemingly pared down and simple black and white film.
The audience at the Lexi focussed on the bleakness of life in the American Mid West and the wonderful acting of the main protagonists: Bruce Dem and Will Forte. What struck me was that there are mainly old people in this film. The only young people are Woody’s – the main character – two sons, two nephews and a very young boy. The second major effect on me was the consciousness of the amazing lightness of touch of the screen writer and director in dealing with ageing and the richness of details easily forgotten or dismissed.
I went home and thought that a quick look at the top critics’ thoughts would confirm my view. Out of ten top critics that I picked up on Rotten Tomatoes, only one, David Sexton of the Evening Standard (6.12.13) says that there are: ” … no young or good-looking people”. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone (15.11.13): “Payne uses small details to reach a larger truth”. The others praised the film except for Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times (5.12.13) who found it, of all things, predictable. Other reviews talk about the director, the actors and their past work, the cinematography, and June Squibb’s performance as the foul mouthed Kate.
I find it interesting that I will be unable to isolate Kate and write about the representation of the old woman. Although she is a secondary character, she is an integral part ofthis amazing film. Many aspects of ageing are present in Nebraska and I look forward to its release on DVD to study it in detail.