BFI London Film Festival 2013: ‘Nebraska’ boasts a grizzled, irascible performance from Bruce Dern

Venerable Woody Grant (a grizzled Bruce Dern) has a singular purpose in mind, to get from his adopted Montana home to neighbouring Nebraska to collect a million-dollar cheque that a suspiciously speculative postal disclaimer has promised to honour. Elderly and suffering with decaying mental functions, Woody clearly can’t see through the marketing scam, and his wife Kate (June Squibb) and son David (Will Forte) grow increasingly exasperated at his dangerous footbound expeditions before arriving at a mutual solution:

‘Nebraska’ Image Gallery

Woody (Bruce Dern, winner of Cannes best actor prize for a nearly wordless performance) is a broke, bitter,recovering alcoholic who barely speaks to his shrewish wife (scene-stealer June Squibb) or grown sons. After falling under the delusion that he’s won a mail-order sweepstakes, he embarks on a cross-country journey, his youngest son David (Will Forte) playing Sancho to his Don Quixote, and making discoveries about his father he never could expect. Telluride favorite Alexander Payne (The Descendants, TFF 2001) explores cruelty, frustration and greed in this Middle American landscape, tempering it with thorough and obvious love. Phedon Papamichael’s bleakly beautiful black-and-white vistas and a superb cast of supporting performers (Stacy Keach, Bob Odenkirk and beautifully picked-and-managed nonprofessionals) make Nebraska Payne’s toughest,most tender and complex work yet.Think Ozu on the modern American prairie.

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