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The 2013 Cannes Review Report: 'Nebraska'

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by Matt Singer
May 23, 2013 11:03 AM
1 Comment
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"Nebraska"
"Nebraska."

The Cannes Review Report rounds up each day's notable premieres, along with a sampling of their reviews and tweets from the south of France. Here's the reaction to "Nebraska," the new film from Alexander Payne, the director of "Election," "Sideways," and "The Descendants."

"Nebraska"
Category: Competition
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb
Synopsis: "A poor old man living in Montana escapes repeatedly from his house to go to Nebraska to collect a sweepstakes prize he thinks he has won. Frustrated by his increasing dementia, his family debates putting him into a nursing home -- until one of his two sons finally offers to take his father by car, even as he realizes the futility. En route the father is injured, and the two must rest a few days in the small decaying Nebraska town where the father was born and where, closely observed by the son, he re-encounters his past. (Don't worry -- it's a comedy.)"

Reviews:

Kaleem Aftab, The Independent:

"This comedy is hit and miss, but will probably earn a Best Picture Oscar nomination."

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:

"Perhaps punches are being pulled, just a little. It doesn't stop 'Nebraska' from being a thoroughly sweet and charming movie, and a reminder of Dern's quality as an actor."

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London:

"The film's laughs are as low-key as Payne's reflective but straight-shooting style of storytelling, and there's a fair amount of sadness."

Scott Foundas, Variety:

"Fits nicely alongside [Payne's] other low-concept, finely etched studies of flawed characters stuck in life's well-worn grooves."

Jamie Graham, Total Film:

"Unlikely to attract the box office rewards or Academy attention of his last film, 'The Descendants,' starring George Clooney -- it’s shot in low contrast black-and-white and gifts its father-son leads to Bruce Dern and Will Forte -- but it is altogether superior."

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist:

"An overfamiliar tale of connections broken and remade."

Eric Kohn, Indiewire:

"Alexander Payne's movies walk a fine line between cruel satire and emotional truth, but in 'Nebraska,' it's particularly hard to discern which is which."

Derek Malcolm, London Evening Standard:

"The film is more of an eccentric road movie than a study of old age on the skids."

Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York:

"A rank exercise in hicksploitation sentimentalism."

Damon Wise, Empire:

"A grown-up crowdpleaser certain to figure on this year's awards trail."

Tweets:

Ryland Aldrich, Twitch:

"NEBRASKA takes a while to get going but there's some Payne gold once you pan through the sentimental sand. Bruce Dern is excellent. #Cannes"

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound:

"#Cannes2013 Alexander Payne' NEBRASKA a lovely road movie about family ties and tensions and memories. Bruce Dern predictably excellent"

Alex Billington, First Showing:

"Nebraska - Lo-fi nostalgic hometown charmer that works well. Payne really brings it home. Will Forte, Bruce Dern both fantastic. #cannes2013"

Xan Brooks, The Guardian:

"Alex Payne's Nebraska, a drawling, maudlin ballad of the American Depression. Sweet, sad, soft in the middle. But Dern is great #Cannes2013"

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph:

"Alexander Payne's Nebraska is a resounding return to form: an ultra lo-fi, black-and-white elegy for the American family #cannes2013"

Mike D'Angelo, A.V. Club:

"Nebraska (Payne): 71. 'Does he have Alzheimer's?' 'He just believes things that people tell him.' 'Oh, that's too bad.'"

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online:

"Alas, Alexander Payne's NEBRASKA -- mostly an elevation of all of Payne's condescending worst instincts -- is one of the low lights. #Cannes2013"

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com:

"I'm not emotionally stable enough for all the heartache in these Cannes films. NEBRASKA is a knockout."

Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail:

"Alexander Payne's black and white Nebraska has Bruce Dern as Don Quoxote and Will Forte as Sancho Panza, with a dollop of corn syrup."

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com:

"Nebraska still has that darker edge though. Bruce Dern's father character is in a devastating decline. Stunning stuff. #cannes2013"

Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times:

"Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is a piece of minor-key perfection, a Sideways-level look at family, aging, ambition and acceptance."

1 Comment

  • Mark | May 23, 2013 8:04 PMReply

    Sasha Stone's tweets are a noteworthy absence from this roundup, and probably the highest praise I have seen of the movie. Its tough for me to judge what to take out of these reactions from many when a lot of people seem to have turned on The Descendants. A lot of the people have posted a followup tweet or review that mentions how they think The Descendants was overhyped garbage or what have you, and I still love the film and have seen it numerous times. Guess like always, just going to have to see it myself and be my own critic.

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