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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Nebraska': The Wryly Comical Tale of a Father and Son's Languid Midwestern Road Trip

Movie poster for the 2013 film Nebraska

Nebraska (2013) is a charming and uniquely sentimental comedy-drama starring Bruce Dern as Woody Grant, an aging resident of Billings, Montana who becomes convinced that he has struck it rich. After receiving a deceptive sweepstakes flyer promising a million dollar reward, Woody sets off on foot to claim his prize—850 miles away in Lincoln, Nebraska.

No longer able to drive in his mid-70's, Woody's overland trek is quickly stymied by the local police who summon his son David (Will Forte) to intervene. Unwilling to accept the fraudulence of the sweepstakes offer, Woody convinces David to escort him to Lincoln for a highly consequential father-and-son road trip. Their travels ultimately land them in Woody's hometown of Hawthorne, Nebraska, where complicated relations and age-old grievances soon come to bear—Woody's proclamations of newfound wealth drawing undue attention from many of the town's residents.

Directed by American filmmaker Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt), Nebraska is an offbeat and amusing expedition across the American heartland. Dern carries the show as the cantankerous septuagenarian near the end of the line, desperate to safeguard his pride as well as his legacy. Shot in fittingly decorous black-and-white by cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, it's a low-key yet affecting tale of discovery and personal heritage.


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