Nomadland is a lifestyle for a few

P Chang
4 min readMay 17, 2021

Yesterday, when I noticed that the rent price of Nomadland dropped from the “early access” category of $19.99 to $5.00 on the Prime Video of Amazon, I clicked the “Rent” button.

“You should pay the early access of $19.99 to watch it, as a token of support to the struggling movie business!” The other day my ever-progressive daughter softly spoke when she was home-parents-visiting from the east coast and found out why I had not watched this movie yet.

“Well,” I did not realize that the price is right of watching this movie has something to do with PC, so I tried to further explain, “this is a type of movie that you have the luxury to wait, and you need to be in the right mood to watch it.”

Judging by her skeptical stare back, I knew it was not very convincing. I kicked myself mentally, ’cause I knew I was falling into one of her very stereotyped Asian parents' pigeon holes again.

But I was sincere.

And, it is a great movie and totally worth the awards it received.

And it is a hard movie to make and much less to be appreciated instantly. Still, it will become a classic of its kind as time goes by because the theme it carries is something timeless and forever daunting.

Chloe Zhao set the mood perfectly right. Frances McDormand carried out flawlessly and convincingly of a person who lost everything she cherished and loved but still trying to keep her dignity. On her way to carry on her life, she found freedom and new spiritual means of living her life.

It has that “still waters run deep” mood, a highly regarded ancient characteristic that is getting scarcer and scarcer in the modern world, left alone among the seemly very neon-colored and overly expressive Americans.

Many of my friends back in China immediately watched the pirate version of this movie the very moment it won both the best picture, best actress, and best director, largely because of Chloe’s stepmother’s big celebrity status in China’s entertainment world.

“I don’t get it! It is almost about nothing. But I am proud that Chloe won the awards!” Many of them expressed an opinion similar to this.

Sometimes I felt my fellow Chinese are becoming more and more extroverted. At the same time, Western people are actually way more introverted than we originally thought they were.

I myself would have appreciated this movie much less if I had not had gone for two car camping trips in the SIP year of 2020.

Car camping brings out two senses that are hard to pursue otherwise: the close encounter with nature and the total freedom to get to it.

And on the way to pursuing these, if you could try new jobs, make new friends, it is then the best redemption for healing and expanding your life experience to a new dimension.

Understanding that, I felt that Chloe created such a powerfully soul-wrenching moment when Frances was sitting on the plush king-size bed her good-natured admirer and partner-husband-wannabe offered, contemplating to stay or to leave. To me, it is just a no-brainer that she would reject that comfy, warm-hearted but placid farm life offered by the admirer’s son’s family and get back on the road.

Sure she did.

Nomandland is a unique lifestyle. It is not about the homeless; it is houseless. It can be deployed by people like myself, the serious bourgeois type who wants to dip and romanticize the hardship occasionally for the sake of reaching nature to the closest we could get.

And there is an increasing number of people like me who are seriously doing it.

Or, like in this movie, it offers a lifestyle for a unique group of good decent people who had given their all to our society and yet fell to the bottom when their prime time was gone. Through this lifestyle, they manage to keep their dignity and form the community. In the course of roaming the beautiful land of America, they find friendship and a new meaning of happiness.

It is a blessing that we have a safe system to offer such a beautiful, massive public land for everyone who needs to get lost in it, even forever, by choice.

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P Chang

It all started with the 2020 SIP, when suddenly you became very reflective.