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Moving Through the Frame

Frances McDormand in Nomadland (courtesy of Searchlight Pictures)

Like The Searchers, Nomadland is bookended by a pair of doorways: on one side, the post-Baby Boom American Dream of domesticity and stability; on the other, the siren’s call of the wanderer, beckoning toward the unknown. In the film’s opening frame, Fern (Frances McDormand) stands in the doorway of a storage unit in Empire, Nevada. The Great Recession has swallowed the mining town whole; the 60-something widow takes one last glance at the remnants of her life, packed away in boxes, and climbs into her Ford Econoline van, headed toward the horizon. A year passes before Fern darkens another symbolic […]

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