Nomadland Review: No So-called Farewell

Writer: Biao Su (Bradley) 

Last month, Nomadland, an American feature film directed by a Chinese female director Chloe Zhao, won the Golden Globe Awards for Best Director. This drama is also very likely to win this year’s Oscar.


After losing her husband and job in the Great Recession, Fern (played by Frances McDormand) embarks on a journey through Western America. She lives as a modern nomad and meets a lot of people like her during the journey. Although she has a good relationship with these people, she still keeps on travelling and looking for the most complete freedom in her life.


The movie mainly discusses the meaning of “home”. In the eyes of most people, the meaning of home is a place where family dependents live together. Fern does not seem to be a very optimistic person. She missed her dead husband all the time and everywhere was wandering for her. 


She once said in the movie, “I am not homeless, I am just houseless.” If the person she loves is not around now, why bother to own a house? She feels that living in a recreational vehicle (RV) is also good, and people of the same “ethnic group” as her are also encouraging and supporting each other.


The imagery Chloe Zhao captured in the movie is a highlight of the movie. The beautiful and romantic imagery blends the characters in the movie with nature, especially the description of Fern and nature blending together in the second half of the movie. Imagine having the opportunity to feel the breeze during the journey, watching the sunrise and sunset, and talking with strangers one after another. This kind of life should be another wonderful life.


The movie is adapted from the non-fiction work of the same name by Jessica Brauder, who is an American female journalist. “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century” adopts the investigative news writing method and tells the process of the author herself going deep into the hinterland of Midwestern America to become a contemporary nomad.


Bob Wells is a real-life nomad and stars in the movie. What he said to Fern in the movie is really touching. There is no such thing as a farewell, people who meet on the road will meet again one day.