Starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb and Stacy Keach
Screenplay by Bob Nelson
Directed by Alexander Payne
Running time 114 minutes
Like Walkabout, our last film in the current linked sequence of movies, Nebraska is about a journey. Woody Grant is an irascible and eccentric old man living in Billings, Montana who is convinced that he has won a million dollars in a sweepstake - all he has to do is get to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his prize. His family are unable to persuade him that he is deluded and his son David eventually agrees to drive him there to prove the point.
The two men set off on a road trip that takes them through the ramshackle landscape of small-town America where they have a series of hilarious encounters and adventures with friends, relatives and other people from Woody’s murky past. Their complicated and difficult father/son relationship is stretched to breaking point along the way.
Alexander Payne’s wonderfully crafted comedy drama features a handful of brilliant actors - most notably the septuagenarian Bruce Dern playing Woody - for which he won the best actor award at Cannes. Also excellent are June Squibb as Woody's foul-mouthed wife Kate and Will Forte as his long-suffering son David. The black and white cinematography by Phedon Papamichael is exquisite and the script by Bob Nelson funny, deft and beautifully observed.
Alexander Payne is one of the best independent filmmakers working today. We screened his razor-sharp comedyElection several years ago and his more recent films including Sideways and The Descendants show him to be a genuine auteur with a wonderful gift for satire.
Bruce Dern continues to be one of the most distinctive and charismatic actors in American cinema - as Woody he delivers perhaps the finest performance in his long career.
Nebraska was universally praised by critics at the time of its release but seen by far too few people - don’t miss this gem of a movie - a perfect way to start the new year.