On paper, "Nomadland" is a movie about a woman living out of her van, going from town to town looking for work. What director Chloé Zhao delivers is a sweeping saga of both the grand themes and the minutiae of life — love, loss and yearning.
Fern (finely played by Oscar-winner Frances McDormand) nomadically wanders in her van conversion from Empire, Nev., to Quartzsite, Ariz., and even points beyond when her company town ceases to exist. But Fern isn't homeless. She describes herself as "houseless." She's part of a movement of people who are refugees from the "tyranny of the dollar" who seek to find a simpler life without roots requiring mortgage, HOA fees or rent. They take their vans to federal land and camping sites, sharing the wisdom of the elders on the best ways to survive and the best buckets to use as commodes. But heck, even they have their standards. For example, Fern is gifted some paint when she's told "your van is looking kinda ratty..."
What makes this film so authentic is that some characters in the movie are played by real life nomads. As Fern picks up work along the way, be it at an Amazon warehouse or Wall Drug, it's clear this film is made of wonderfully delicate strokes of everyday people largely overlooked, and the majestic vistas of the American West and open road. Simply put, "Nomadland" is pitch perfect because it truly shows "what's out there" on the road "is more interesting."