Finding the poetry in Nebraska

A trailer and early reports of Bruce Dern’s performance had made me keen to see the new road movie Nebraska, in which he plays  a mulish pensioner intent on walking 800 miles on the promise of a million-dollar prize.

I’m keener still having read Jonathan Romney’s piece for The Observer yesterday, in which he describes the lengths to which the director, Alexander Payne, has gone to capture (in black and white) the feel of his home state and of what’s often dismissed as “flyover country”. Before starting the shoot, he and his cinematographer, Phedon Papamichael, took a three-day trip tracing the route that would be followed by Woody, played by Dern, and his son, Dave (Will Forte), from Billings, Montana, to Lincoln, Nebraska. The production designer, Dennis Washington, reckons that he and Payne clocked up 12,000 miles on their recce of Nebraska’s bars and bowling alleys. The result, says Romney, is a film “that finds poetry in the most unappetising locations”.

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