Alexander Payne


Compared with the lush Hawaiian hills of The Descendants and the Pinot-scented vineyards of Sideways, dusty, featureless Nebraska seems an oddly flat choice of locale for an Alexander Payne film.

Shot in stark monochrome, this is a poetic, painful and, at times, painfully funny tribute to the director’s Nebraskan roots (he was born in the state’s largest city, Omaha).

Bruce Dern plays Woody, a dishevelled alcoholic on the brink of senility who is convinced that he has won $1m, if only he can get to the state capital Lincoln to collect it. Taking pity, his son David, drives him cross-country, stopping off in Woody’s home town, where an assortment of sad laggards learn of his win and are determined to join the party. Poignant.

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