By Catholic News Service
A sense of loneliness pervades this poignant drama in which Frances McDormand gives a bravura performance as a working-class widow from a failed factory town who takes to the road in search of seasonal employment, becoming part of a subculture of marginalized nomads who move from one trailer park to the next in their struggle to evade economic ruin. Though she forms friendships along the way, including with a few real-life sojourners playing themselves, she resists possible romance with another fellow migrant (David Strathairn) and a couple of opportunities to abandon her travels and settle down in one place.
Drawing on journalist Jessica Bruder’s 2017 book, writer-director Chloe Zhao highlights how momentary encounters and emotional connection help to relieve the cycle of menial labor and anxiety for the future her vulnerable-but-resilient protagonist endures. She also emphasizes the spiritual lineage all her travelers share with the pioneers of old. Parents will have to weigh whether delicately handled elements that would normally bar younger viewership should be overlooked in the case of mature teens.
Brief full and partial female nudity in nonsexual contexts, mature themes, including suicide and euthanasia, fleeting scatological material, at least one profanity and a milder oath, a single crude and a couple of crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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