Nomadland Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Chloé Zhao’s Nomandland takes the audience on a journey through the American landscape, after Fern (Frances McDormand) loses everything in the Great Recession. She embarks on a journey of re-discovery as a van-dweller and finds solace in the community. Zhao’s direction and storytelling is mesmerizing and captures the subtleties of living.

What was so interesting about this film was the conversation surrounding the American economy and how retired workers choose to live, after they’ve been a slave to capitalism their entire lives. We, as people, lose sight of what is the most important because we are working in order to survive. Zhao choosing to focus on vandwellers was really eye-opening and hit such emotional chords. There’s such a human connection to this film and its characters, that the viewer will understand the decisions made by Fern and the rest of the community.

Frances McDormand as Fern
Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

The film is beautifully shot and the cinematography is the clear standout, the picturesque landscapes fill the screen, as we join Fern on her journey. It is a stunning film and it is understandable why so many people connected to it but it just was not for me. Frances McDormand carries this film and gives another wonderful performance but again, nothing really stood out for me. Zhao delivered on the technical aspects and her ability to ground her characters in a very humanistic story.

Nomadland is definitely the darling of the festival circuit and has every right to be. It has a strong story, beautiful imagery and a sense of peacefulness for its characters. Zhao is a beautiful filmmaker and has a great future ahead, she is a wonderful storyteller and raises strong questions about life after loss. The film is peaceful, yet draining because of the intimate, emotional conversations shared with its characters.

The Knight Before Christmas Review

Another Christmas season is upon us and it wouldn’t be complete without a Vanessa Hudgens romantic comedy.

The Knight Before Christmas is a heartwarming fairytale about our journey through life and the treatment of others surrounding us. It is filled with holiday spirit and highlights different family units, who have to spend Christmas celebrating the way it works best for them. It’s a story that shows the value in paying forward kindness, gratitude, love and the craft of gift giving.

Vanessa Hudgens as Brooke, is darling in this, as she navigates her own feelings about love and Christmas traditions. The noble knight, Sir Cole, played by Josh Whitehouse, is on his journey of self discovery, or as one would say in the 1300’s, he was sent on a Quest. Hudgens has great facial expressions and her comedic timing is perfect and Whitehouse played with the duality of speaking in his medieval language, while adding modern day slang. The references and modernization of certain words like “wench”, showed how important language is and how much it has changed. Hudgens and Whitehouse had great chemistry and it felt magical.

The true meaning of Christmas is strong in this film and it was lovely to see the kindness spread throughout. It’s also important to keep family traditions, no matter how hard it may be. Whether you’ve lost a loved one or you can’t afford the gifts you think your family deserves, you can always make new traditions and honour the Christmas spirit.