The latest film from director Alexander Payne (‘Sideways’ 04, ‘The Descendants’ 11) stars Bruce Dern as Woody Grant, whom we initially see determinedly walking down a Montana highway trying to march his way to Lincoln Nebraska (that state’s capital) before being picked up by a state trooper and his worried family informed. His wife Kate (June Squibb) and sons David (Will Forte) and Ross (Bob Odenkirk) try to convince him that the marketing voucher he’s received saying he may have won a million dollars to be collected in Lincoln isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, but eventually David takes Woody on a road trip in order to satisfy him and spend some time with his father, stopping off in the small town where Woody and Kate first met along the way.
The entire film is shot in black and white, which looks great (they used Arri Alexa digital cameras, which would definitely be The Red Dragon’s weapon of choice too), and has elements of both a personal journey – the sort of thing where you one day decide I am absolutely going to do this one thing, even though that one thing may not make a great deal of sense, may not be at all practical, and may not have even existed as a thought a mere second ago, but then as the story progresses it becomes a much more reflective piece looking at the father son relationship, and the lives of the family in general. The same slow burn but involving nature from Payne’s previous work turns this into something endearing – helped along by good performances from everyone on the way. Bob Nelson wrote the screenplay, making this the first of Payne’s feature films not to have him appear on the writing credits.