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Will new movie about RV van living fuel nomad lifestyle?

A new movie about the nomad lifestyle starring Academy Award-winning actress Frances McDormand debuted in movie theaters and on Hulu Friday. The low budget “Nomadland” is receiving rave reviews. In it, McDormand’s character, Fern, loses her husband and then her part-time factory job in rural Empire, Nevada. She sets off to live in a van. With a barebones income, she travels through the American West. She picks up odd jobs and stays at campgrounds and on public lands, including near Quartzsite, Arizona. There she meets fellow van dwellers and RV boondockers. The photography of the American West is often stunning.

MOVIE TRAILER AND NPR RADIO REVIEW BELOW

Among Fern’s jobs are working at an Amazon warehouse and on a beet harvest in Nebraska. She also works as a camp host in Badlands National Park and in the kitchen of tourist-mecca Wall Drug in South Dakota.

The film is part fiction, part non-fiction. For example, some of the characters are real “nomads,” including van life guru and YouTube celebrity Bob Wells. “Nomadland” is based on Jessica Bruder’s 2017 nonfiction book of the same name.

This nomad lifestyle movie is winning world-wide awards

Nominated for four Golden Globes, including Best Drama, “Nomadland” has emerged as an early Best Picture Oscar front-runner. It has swept nearly every major critics’ and festival award since premiering at the Venice Film Festival last September.

McDormand and actor David Strathairn in the Badlands. Photo: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

It remains to be seen how many people who see the movie will be tempted to take up the minimalistic “nomad” lifestyle. It’s not always easy. Then again, there’s a certain romance to it that many viewers may find a liberating, exciting way to live.

BELOW: Listen to a review of the movie from NPR

The movie can be streamed for free to Hulu.com members. It is also showing in many movie theaters.

Watch the two-minute trailer.

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Beachcamper
6 months ago

The movie focuses on a woman that lost her husband through illness, his company closed and is now unable to afford much on social security. She decides to live in a DIY customized van until she figures out what to do. The characters are loosely based on real people who lost all after the housing bust and the Great Recession of 2007. The main actress Francis McDormond was incredibly convincing.

In order to get by, she finds work where most RV’rs that fulltime work Amazon, the beet harvest, camp host and seasonal work. It shows all the negative and positives of her new life as she struggles to find her way. I enjoyed the movie even though it was depressing. Now in my 3rd year fulltimer, have run across many that live this way. One has to do what one must to survive and living in vans, RV’s and even cars whether by choice or from necessity is a reality in our country.

Last edited 6 months ago by Beachcamper
James S
7 months ago

I liked this movie. People need to see the ugly parts of the vanlife too. There’s too much bias on Instagram and Youtube on the glamour of vanlife. People need to see the bad parts too, like getting stranded on the road because of a flat tire; or having to clean a disgusting public restroom toilet when you work as a camp host.

David Allen
7 months ago

RV’ers the Movie did not live up to the hype and I doubt this one will either. I have not seen it but nothing in the trailer made me want to see it.

Patti Panuccio
7 months ago

I loved it.

Philip Sponable
7 months ago

No.

dcook
7 months ago

Absolutely not, it has Bob W. in it as a hero whom is a known communist and ashiest and he got his start by suing the hand that was feeding him. He broke his arm and got a quack doctor to write a letter stating he can never “host” again where he was working and received a large settlement. I have had the honor to be at parks with disabled host and they were doing a great job. A real con man with the sweetest “I love you and care for you voice”. Always making videos while driving with on coming head on traffic, I hate that. He breaks all the rules, not a good person, so no!!

Tommy Molnar
7 months ago

Not even remotely interested . . .

Steven J. Scheinin
7 months ago

I am glad I did not watch this movie before starting full-time RVing 5 years ago. I might not have.

Cheryl Bacon
7 months ago

I saw it on the new banner on Hulu. I had very little interest in it, that I didn’t even read the details of it. Now finding out it is an adaption of that book, I have zero interest. Just the synopsis of the book was a snooze fest. We are fighting to get more campgrounds, while the locals don’t want rv’s near where they live, fulltimers struggle enough with getting a domicile, insurance, etc etc and this movie and book make it look like all rvers are destitute homeless people on the brink of mental illness.

John F.
7 months ago

I have not seen the movie but I have read the book. The book is really excellent. Dark, depressing, brutally honest, and extremely well written. There is nothing in it that I remember that would promote RVing as most of the people on this site know it. As others have said the book is about survival and making do with what you have. Its sort of a how to book about living in a van without paying for camping sites. People who take up “Fern’s” lifestyle aren’t looking for full hookups. Just the opposite. They hope not to be noticed most of the time.

Pat
7 months ago
Reply to  John F.

Having read the book, I totally agree with you.

dcook
7 months ago

Some friends watched it, said it was so slooooowwwwwww, and borings class B- movie, I wont bother watching it for other reasons. Anything with Bob W. in it whom is a known atheist and communist is not appealing to me.

Gray
7 months ago
Reply to  dcook

Really? The Facebook van-camping guru Bob W. is a known atheist and communist? I did not know that.

When we were kids (and remember, I’m really, really old) we ran around with cap pistols and stick rifles playing “Cowboys and Indians.” Nobody wanted to be the Indian! Everybody wanted to be Red Ryder or Roy Rogers. Now we could play “Fascists and Atheist Liberals.” Who wants to play the Fascist?

The film “Nomad Nation” is based on a journalist’s three-year account of one side of American social and economic inequality. It is anecdotal, based on interviews with real people. If that is depressing and controversial, so be it. As some would say, “it is what it is.”

Pammy
7 months ago
Reply to  dcook

Oh yea, gotta watch out for us evil atheists. What a ridiculous comment. Hope your happy living in your fairy tale world

Ron
7 months ago

I thought it was a great movie and portrayed that there are options for people who have basically nothing but are willing to work. It beats trying to live on the streets or sitting on the street holding up a sign begging. It isn’t a movie about RV-ing and glamorizing that life… it is about trying to stay alive and not be a burden for others.

Cecilia
7 months ago

We saw this movie on Hulu. I was really looking forward to it because I love Frances. I was pretty disappointed in how depressing it was. It most definitely does not paint the lifestyle as glamorous or fun. It was about survival and that’s it. The annoying part for us was the lighting technique. Everything was dark! Even in the middle of the day, it looked dark. Frances looked like she hadn’t washed her hair in a month. When they filmed her in her van, you didn’t see the interior because, again, dark. The film definitely had a point of view and it wasn’t good. I have to say that I saw this about 3 days ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

David Mckenna
7 months ago

I watched the movie last night. I’ve been a full time RVer for 11 years. I enjoyed seeing the places I frequent, like Quartzsite and the old RTR location. There was nothing in the movie that seemed to me like they got it terribly wrong. My experience has been happier than the main character “fern”, I think because I enjoy being around people more than it seemed Fern did. If you watch it you will get to see Bob Wells being Bob Wells, and a short clip of the late “Quartzsite naked bookseller”, Paul Winer.

john1470
7 months ago

Depressing, but scenery was nice.

Linda
7 months ago

Makes me want to hit the road. But I’ve been stuck in the frozen south.

Bob P
7 months ago
Reply to  Linda

What part of the south is frozen? It’s 68 deg in S Central TN.

Angelack
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

Umm…Texas? Have you not been paying attention to the news at all? LOL.

Really
7 months ago

Unfortunately, I don’t think this movie will get too much attention!

It will probably DIE ON THE VINE after the first week.

Considering people just don’t go to movies anymore, Virus or No Virus!

And as Seann Fox says, why promote such a movie, when there is a shortage of Western Campgrounds now. I say that, because it appears to made out in the Western States.

Fortunately My Wife and I camp in areas where there isn’t allot of Tourist Traps and will drive a few extra miles after settling in to see what we want.

Have a good one!

Pat
7 months ago

I read the book a year ago (excellent book) and I can’t honestly see how the movie (and I don’t get the hype) would encourage anyone to take up van dwelling. This is not about recreation, this is about survival.

Laurie
7 months ago
Reply to  Pat

I also read the book. I seen the movie last night and it portrayed the exact opposite of the book. Not much struggling going on. It almost made it an inviting life style and will probably inspire more people to hit the road.

Seann Fox
7 months ago

Just what we DON’T need. Campground spaces are already near non-existent and the fees when you can get one are going up according to an article here. Why does everyone always think they should get everyone else into their hobby?

Gman
7 months ago
Reply to  Seann Fox

It’s the way of the world. You can’t stop “CHANGE”, that is certainly not in your span of control, though you DO have choices. Like the song, “Don’t worry, be Happy”. Stay safe everyone.

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