Directed by: Alexander Payne
Written by: Bob Nelson
Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb and Bob Odenkirk
The most endearing image of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is of an old man stubbornly trudging along the highways and sidewalks of rural America. The camera is placed a patient distance in front of him, not sighing at his pace but simply waiting for him to catch up. That distance is indicative of the relationship that that man, Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), has with the rest of the world. He’s quietly stubborn, wearing a look of defeat as his default expression. His son David (Will Forte) sees that and pities him.
Pity is the main engine that drives Nebraska’s sparse story, which Payne makes incidental to character and landscape. Woody is walking from Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to cash in a $1 million slip he got from a sham marketing company. His wife Kate (June Squibb) can do little but throw her hands up in the air in exasperation at his repeated attempts to walk there (his license was revoked).