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Opinion: Americans are hitting the road. This amazing film goes along for the ride

February 19, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 23.6%. 1 min read.

Frances McDormand in the film NOMADLAND. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. ?? 2020 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Sara Stewart weighs in on why the film "Nomadland" is so important. It's an artistic triumph for women artists like Frances McDormand and director Chloé Zhao -- but it also answers a key question amid the ravages of Covid: What happens next? For some, hitting the road is that answer.

The film, from director Chloé Zhao ("The Rider"), is a travelogue centered on Fern (Frances McDormand), a widowed and unemployed Nevadan who puts most of her belongings into storage and hits the road in her van, retrofitted to be a home on wheels.

Along the way, she connects and reconnects with like-minded travelers, older Americans who, for one reason or another, are living out of their vans and RVs, doing seasonal work and occasionally coming together to trade tips and celebrate nomad life.

As cultural commentary, the film is both an invitation to see America through the eyes of its nomads, and a haunting tale about the many reasons one might end up living that life.

It seems reasonable to expect that more people, many older single women like Fern among them, may decide to do away with exorbitant rent or mortgage costs and embrace life on the road.

It's hard to watch Zhao's film without worrying for the fates of older nomads working hard physical labor and operating without, it seems likely, health insurance.

Zhao told Indiewire she didn't come across "any kind of racism or bias during the time I spent on the road," but added that "now, during the pandemic — and coming from China — I feel for the first time since I started living in America that I'm not sure want to hit the road for a while. " If America's nomad ranks continue to grow, I hope we'll hear from other, diverse voices on down the road.

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