Nebraska is the latest film by Alexander Payne and quite possibly his finest film to date. It stars the always wonderful Bruce Dern stars as Woody Grant who falls for the age old winning $1,000,000 letter scam and wants to go all the way to Lincoln, Nebraska to get the money. The role was originally intended for Jack Nicholson but turned it down and in many ways that’s a good thing cause it would have became a JACK movie.
Woody is an alcoholic grumpy old man with Alzheimer’s who realises he has wasted his life. The letter comes though the door and it’s one thing he can put some hope on even though he knows somewhere it’s all a scam. Woody annoys his long-suffering wife with the letter and other relatives. His son David (Will Forte) eventually agrees to drive him all the way to the return address on the letter. They meet relatives, old friends and grow closer on the way in a sentimental level but not in a sugary sweet way.
The film is in many ways similar to Payne’s previous films especially About Schmidt and to a lesser extent his last film The Descendants. Both films are about a man in the twilight years of their life and both films face morality. It however works a lot better than both of those films due to the surprise casting of the Bruce Dern in the kind of role he never gets. It’s also it’s just paced better than both of those films which has been a problem for Payne in the past especially About Schmidt.
The film full of great characters actors not just Bruce Dern in a rare starring role but Stacy Keech and everyone’s favourite Sleazy Lawyer Bob Odenkirk from Breaking Bad as Woody’s other son. Nebraska harkens back to the old days of character-based films of the 1970s, which is evident in the way the story is told as is the casting of Dern and Keach. It’s a one of the year’s finest films and it was one of the highlights of the Leeds film festival.
Paramount Pictures UK
6th December 2013 (UK)
Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keech, June Squibb