A houseless woman on the road
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
She is now a nomad: a person that travels around the country without a house or fixed address and does a variety of jobs.
A lot of progress has been made throughout history, and for that to continue there have to be changes in the work industry. Everyone that is laid off due to the pandemic will have to find new jobs and this often involves learning new skills and exploring a variety of jobs until one can find the position that is right for them. The film Nomadland explores these themes of unemployment and finding new jobs.
Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland—based on the book by Jessica Bruder—takes place in 2011 where an industry town in Nevada called Empire is erased from the map after the local gypsum plant is shut down because low demand. Everyone in the town is now unemployed including Fern (Frances McDormand) who recently lost her husband. She is now a nomad: a person that travels around the country without a house or fixed address and does a variety of jobs, and in her case, being an Amazon warehouse worker, a concierge in a RV park, a waitress, and working in a beet plant.
During her trips, she gets used to being a nomad with the help of seasoned nomads that she meets along the way including Linda May, Swankie, and nomad expert Bob Wells. Fern is friendly and helpful to the people that she meets and her purpose in being a nomad is to remember her husband, though she could have instead lived with a relative of hers. The nomad lifestyle is like workers in the gig economy except they have to do a variety of jobs in their local community instead of going around the country.
We see scenic shots of America throughout a year as well as long tracking shots of Fern walking in dark lighting in some scenes which describes the style of Zhao’s films. There were a lot of jumpcuts in the film to speed it up and make Fern’s journey more straightforward. The difference between nomads and pioneers is shown in the second half of the film where pioneers have successful jobs and live in the suburbs.
The movie was filmed before the pandemic began and it is relevant to what is happening right now as a lot of people are trying to find work. It shows various industries being phased out because of improvements in technology; the film highlights that everyone should learn a lot of new skills just in case they may lose their job. Having a fresh start after losing a job can allow you to adjust to a new environment, explore career options, and maybe get back on track in Nomadland.
See you down the road. Nomadland is available on Disney+.