A woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
Frances McDormand stars as Fern, a widow and former substitute teacher in Empire, Nevada – a town wiped off the map by a factory closure – who is forced into piling some possessions into a tatty van and heading off, something she accepts with an absolute lack of self-pity. She roams an almost post-apocalyptic landscape finding temporary work here and there while learning how to survive from her fellow ‘nomads’. This is perhaps Mcdormand’s finest performance bringing extraordinary empathy to her character’s human need to find connections against a background of desolation. Director Chloé Zhao’s gaze is humanistic and understanding and she surely has a big career ahead of her.