Nebraska

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(2013) ★★★★

Sky Movies Select: Monday 8 June, 5.45pm

Booze-addled grouch Bruce Dern is on a road trip from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska with estranged son Will Forte to claim a million-dollar sweepstakes prize. That doesn’t exist. Cantankerous is putting it politely. That goes double for June Squibb’s Ma. “If I had a million dollars, I’d put him in a home,” she says scornfully to Forte. Their trip is stalled in Hawthorne, a small town in central Nebraska, where the father grew up and has scores to settle. “Back then,” says the always menacing Stacy Keach, smiling, “divorce was a sin. Now it seems okay. God must’ve changed his mind.” Colourful characters in an evocative black-and-white landscape. Like The Last Picture Show, it’s funny and sad, but great to see the veteran Dern so vital so long after Silent Running, the 1971 sci-fi cult that gave him one of his rare leading roles. More often he was a brooding background presence, like the rustler dismissively referred to as ‘Longhair’ in the 1971 John Wayne western, The Cowboys. Dern shot the Duke in the back and although he always laughed about that, he also kind of regretted it. Little for Sideways director Alexander Payne to regret here. Nebraska is a big step up from his previous film, The Descendants. In a role reportedly rejected by Jack Nicholson, Dern is a genuine cause for concern. And celebration. Does he have Alzheimer’s? “He just believes stuff people tell him,” says his son, who is patient and kind and gives the old man a lovely grace-note ending

Certificate: 15
Duration: 115min