By Matt Passantino
The primary reason to take advantage of seeing Nebraska at The Little is to appreciate the gorgeous black and white cinematography by Oscar-nominated Phedon Papamichael on a big screen.
Director Alexander Payne and Papamichael capture the landscapes of Nebraska and Montana impeccably and place audiences right in the center of the world created on screen. Choosing to shoot the film in black and white, with the Midwestern landscapes as the backdrop, gives Nebraska a rugged, authentic look. This was an aesthetically pleasing decision made by the filmmakers because Nebraska plays like a classic screwball comedy and the production decisions help accentuate that feeling.
Nebraska is another winning achievement in Payne’s filmography. Working from a screenplay by Bob Nelson, Nebraska tells the story of Woody Grant (Oscar-nominated Bruce Dern) who lives in Montana with his wife, Kate (Oscar-nominated June Squibb). Woody received notice that he was the winner of $1 million through a marketing sweepstake. He enlists his son, David (Will Forte), to help him travel to Nebraska to collect his winnings. Reluctantly, David agrees to take his father to Nebraska even know he knows that this is most likely a scam.
The narrative of Nebraska is familiar, but Payne and company make the film a superior and exceptional experience. Dern embodies the character of Woody, allowing the audience to know Woody’s past struggles and failures and why he needs this trip to Nebraska. Squibb steals every scene she is in, earning big laughs as Woody’s salty wife. Squibb’s performance is not a caricature, but rather brings comedic relief and blunt honesty to the film through her portrayal. She is the character who is never afraid to speak her mind when other members of her family dance around the truth.
Take advantage of seeing Nebraska this week at The Little. It is a perfect film to enjoy with that community – one that calls to mind classic comedy incorporating witty humor plus genuine characters who envelop you in their world.
Matt Passantino is a student at SUNY Brockport.