<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Alexander Payne. Starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach, June Squibb
DVD Courtesy: Sony DADC
Not having watched this film in theatres I was quite happy to get a DVD from Sony DADC (Home Entertainment Services) of Nebraska. And the day I watched it just happened to be Father’s Day, which is the perfect day to watch a film like this one.
The fact that Nebraska is in black and white only adds to its charm. Nebraska is about old people and the young people who either feed off of them and the few who give them a shoulder to lean on.
More specifically it’s about Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) an old man who starts walking to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his one million dollar prize because no one else will take him. That’s also because the prize is actually one of those ‘you may be a winner’ schemes and Woody is known for his instability. His wife Kate (June Squibb) dismisses his delusions and insults Woody in front of his two sons David (Will Forte) and Ross (Bob Odenkirk). She’s the one who took care of them. Woody was the one who drank away his life after his stint in the war and all he did was lend needy neighbours, in their old hometown of Hawthorne, money.
But David, an audio-video salesman at a local store in Missouri, where they live now, can’t see his dad suffer. Even though he knows the ‘prize’ isn’t genuine, he humours his dad’s quest and they set off on a road journey together. On the way they meet old President’s (in one of many grumpy old man scenes that will have you chuckling) and old family (hilariously realistic).
Alexander Payne has captured the essence of small town America and their ‘community’ life. Everyone knows everyone and they can remember from way back, especially so if you’re a ‘millionaire’. Stacy Keach as Woody’s old ‘friend’ Ed Pegram provides some drama when he wants a piece of the pie to settle old scores.
And Woody’s brother and nephews with their monosyllabic replies and jibes at David are fantastic. Some scenes don’t even need words. The ones that do are ably filled by June Squibb who tears through Woody’s money grubbing family and even and old boyfriend in a graveyard!
Will Forte as David portrays the angst of a son dealing with a father who is on the verge of losing his mind. He doesn’t think an old age home is the answer though and values the time he gets to spend with his dad on their road trip since they didn’t have much of a relationship when he was a kid. Bob Odenkirk as Ross, the more practical son who is finally getting his due at work, starts off being a bit of a jerk but ends up being likeable, as do most of the other characters inspite of their quirks and eccentricities.
Nebraska is a quaint little film, endearing and sometimes enchanting. You’ll recognise similarities with your family, you’ll wonder whether you’ll be like Woody when you get old and what your prioritise right now should be. And maybe at the end it’s the journey and not the destination that counts. Maybe.
The DVD I got from Sony DADC had a great print and the sound was good too. However, there are no DVD extras at all, only Setup and Scene Selection. Price Rs 599.