Movie Details

Nebraska

A father and son trek from Montana to Nebraska to claim a prize money of a million dollars, courtesy of Mega Sweepstakes Marketing. Along the way, the two meet up with friends, relatives and acquaintances to whom the father owes money. It was nominated for the Palme d`Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Language: English
Subtitle: NA
Classification: NC16
Release Date: 6 Feb 2014
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 1 Hour 55 Minutes
Distributor: SHAW ORGANISATION
Cast: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Stacy Keach, Bob Odenkirk
Director: Alexander Payne
Format: 2D

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Review
Writer: Casey Lee

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Watch this if you liked: “About Schmidt”, “The Descendants” & “Sideways”

"Nebraska" opens with a stumbling Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) walking dangerously along the highways until a police cruiser stops him on the side of the road. When Woody's middle-aged son, David (Will Forte), picks up his father at the station and sends him home to his mother and Woody's wife, Kate (June Squibb), David finds out that this isn't the first time that Woody had attempted his interstate walk as though he was on a mission. That mission turns out to be picking up a million dollars that Woody had allegedly won based on a letter he had received. After failing to talk Woody out that the letter is an old-fashioned marketing gimmick, David finally decides to indulge his father and takes a few days off work to personally drive Woody to collect his 'winnings', 750 miles and two states away from their home at Billings, Montana.

Shot soberly in black and white, "Nebraska" takes us back into exploring missed chances and unspoken petty ills that get unloaded when a life-changing event happens for family drama to ensue, just as he did in "About Schmidt" and "The Descendants". When Woody and David's trip needs to take a little detour from their destination, they end up in the sleepy farm town of Hawthorne; Woody's hometown, where the wives of Woody's relatives make conversations about awkward subjects and the men watch TV in awkward silence in one entirely awkward family reunion with nothing to talk about. When Woody's supposed unclaimed windfall turns him into an overnight town celebrity, the reunion with family and friends slowly becomes uncomfortable when old scores, old debts and old stories are brought up that are best left unsettled, unpaid and untold.

Payne's direction once again brings the best out of his lead, previously with Nicholson and Clooney, and now pulls out an applauding (and again Oscar nominated) performance from Bruce Dern. Even with Dern often dazed, cloudy and staring off into pace, Payne's placement of him in the shot subtly captures a man of the baby boomer generation whose life had past him, gone after years of alcoholism and indifference, but still clinging to make his last hurrah before his end or the end of his mental state. Dern's grunts and short work with words may not appear to say much but it puts a prick into the heart of anyone who has had to take care of a relative on the verge on Alzheimer's. To this, Will Forte puts on a calm performance as David, who tries to put on a show that his life couldn't be better, even though it is has fallen into a rut that is just as pointless, directionless and loveless as his father's.

The real standout, however, goes to June Squibb's Kate Grant (another Oscar-nominated category), whose sharp tongue and even sharper mind is an acidic joy when she joins the reunion with a family that is aging into cluelessness. Kate is not stingy with her remarks and choice of words to those she never liked, family or not, and her misgivings on anyone who is trying to exploit her muddled husband's over-generosity that ruined their lives and most likely drove her family out of Hawthorne in the first place, is a hidden sledgehammer behind the face of a deceivingly likable and petite grandmother.

If compared to "The Descendants", "Nebraska" is not quite as dramatic but its quiet moments are effecting, toned with the right mood by the country tunes of Mark Orton. It's dry pace isn't meant for all (especially if you can drive 850 miles under 8 hours), but for those who can relate with someone who has elderly worries or used to the motions of Alexander Payne, you can easily settle in like enjoying the view outside of a slow drive, especially in that final scene when Woody finally has his moment.

Cinema Online, 12 February 2014
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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