Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. Ralph Potts reviews the Blu-ray release of Nomadland from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.


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The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

88



Details:

Studio and Year: Fox - 2020
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 108 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie
Written & Directed by: Chloe Zhao
Based on the Book by: Jessica Bruder
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: April 27, 2021


"Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century"


Synopsis:

Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. – 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

My Take:

The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, Nomadland is a portrait of a woman who has lost a husband and in fact her whole former life, when the mining town where she lived is essentially dissolved. She packs up her belongings and sets out in her converted van. In her travels across the American west, from the Badlands of South Dakota to the Nevada desert, to the Pacific Northwest, she gains strength and a new life in the community of nomad gatherings she attends, which include Linda May and Swankie (real life nomads who play themselves) and, closer companionship with Dave (David Strathairn) who she meets along with others on her journey.

Based on the book by Jessica Bruder, Nomadland is a multifaced drama that speaks to the human condition as seen through the eyes of a woman in search of fortune through the bonds of kinship. It’s a road story-based character study that’s aptly set against American landscapes that embolden its narrative/themes. I found it to be a slow burn whose focus on the flipside of the American dream worked quite well, serving to compassionately depict life from another perspective.

Frances McDormand is on top of her game, carrying the film at every turn. Screenwriter/director Chloe Zhao’s staunch handling of the subject matter is clearly evident throughout. The cinematography is simply magnificent. Nomadland is far from run of the mill and may not find an audience with everyone but, for those that enjoy a thoughtful, earthy and well-crafted/enacted slice of life drama, it checks all the boxes.


Replay Value:



Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic material and some full nudity.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.



Audio: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA


Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • Resolution/Clarity:
    • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
    • Color Reproduction:
    • Fleshtones:
    • Compression:


NomadlandX comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

The high-definition video quality was on par with other new release films of its type, and looked great. Colors were natural looking with a pleasing quality that capably handled the palette required by the settings and clothing featured in the film. Flesh tones varied a bit with some appearing well delineated, and lifelike while others had a slightly pale appearance. Contrast was spot on which augmented the beautifully captured natural lighting of the exterior locations featured in the film. Images were detailed and crisp, with definable lines and appreciable dimension. While I noticed occasions where the image appeared soft, most notably in the third act, this appeared innate to the photography and never called fidelity into question. Blacks were strong with discernable gradational quality while detail in dark areas and low-lit sequences was estimable which enhanced depth. The video was rendered well, and didn’t show any signs of compression related anomalies or video artifacts.

The DTS-HD MA soundtrack readily handled the elements contained in this dialog driven film. The presentation retained a front-loaded perspective with well-defined and clearly articulated dialog that extended well into the room. Sounds were reproduced with discerning clarity and delineation that brought forth plenty of subtle nuance and low-level detail. Surround activity was limited to rear channel spatial cues and occasional directional sounds. This isn’t a dynamically demanding soundtrack however this lossless presentation was a perfect match with the source material and sounded fine.


Bonus Features:

  • • The Forgotten America
    • Deleted Scenes
    o Lunch Interrupted
    o A Gift From God
    • Telluride Premiere Q&A with Frances McDormand and Chloé Zhao
  • Digital Code




Final Thoughts:

Based on the book by Jessica Bruder and, written/directed by Chloe Zhao, Nomadland is a topical, multifaced and well-executed drama that speaks to the human condition as seen through the eyes of a woman in search of fortune through the bonds of kinship. It comes to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring excellent high-definition audio/video and a middling supplemental package. Nomadland is far from run of the mill and, may not find an audience with everyone but, for those that enjoy a thoughtful, earthy and well-crafted/enacted slice of life drama, it checks all the boxes. In that light it deserves a place at the top of your Blu-ray rental queue.






Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems