David Grant (played by Will Forte) is an audio-visual salesman. As a job, it’s okay. He lives modestly in a small flat in Billings, Montana – it’s a small town, it’s okay. His love life could be much better but all in all things are okay. The only thing that’s getting to him is his ageing parents – they’re starting to need more and more care and call on him much more for help these days. Today, his dad Woody (by Bruce Dern) has once again been returned home by the Sheriff after he was found wandering along a busy road. His mum Kate (by June Squibb), has asked David to come over and talk some sense into his father. Woody’s “walking to Lincoln, Nebraska” to pick up the big prize he’s he’s been awarded – he knows so coz he got a brochure in the mail from them saying he’s the lucky winner, but Kate won’t drive him there to get it. Kate and David’s older brother Ross (by Bob Odenkirk) think it’s time Woody went into “a home”, but David’s not so hasty as Woody’s just trying to keep some meaning in his life. Seeing it’s a scam, he tries to talk Woody out of the trip, but he won’t be convinced, so to keep an eye on him – and placate him, David agrees to drive Woody to Lincoln. During the drive over several days, David finds there’s so much more to his father than he ever realised – and that some things are far more important than money.
This unique movie is marvellous. It’s so understated that it could just pass through the cinema and most would never even know about it. That would be a shame – it’s a treasure. Filmed in black and white, this sets a strong mood for this story of discovery and poignancy. Bruce Dern is magnificent as Woody Grant, a simple man with deep principles and little need for fanfare. His stunning foil is June Squibb, as his wife Kate – she steals the show without doubt – she’s wonderful. The sons, David and Ross, are both very good – with Will Forte delivering the lead role of David in impeccable, but sensitive and well-balanced style, The comedy and storyline throughout is reflective of the Coen Brothers’ work, delivered with delicious timing and style. However, some of the performances are strangely wooden, particularly the character of Peg Nagy, by Angela McEwan – it’s so awkward it surely must be deliberate. The cousins, Bart and Cole, by Tim Driscoll and Devin Ratray, are hilarious – they are naturals for these two characters. In fact there are so many great performances – Stacy Keach is another strong one. In appropriate recognition, the movie has been nominated for several Academy (Oscar) Awards for Picture of the Year, Leading Actor (Dern), Supporting Actress (Squibb), Directing (Payne), Cinematography and Writing, Original Screenplay. It’s marvellous.
Made in 2013. Directed by Alexander Payne.