Dark humor: rural landscapes


One of the interesting things about rural life is the continued look at the uncanniness and unpredictability of dark humor working in films–pretty much interconnected with novels and plays. I really liked Squibbs’s and Wilson’s performances because characters were such polar opposites of each other. The film, Nebraska, was an eccentric look into focusing on the theme of the family dynamic and what boundaries parents did and didn’t have with one another and the effect those boundaries had on their children. Interestingly enough, the characters, the two sons, beat to a different drum as much as their parents. The sons were so different and yet craved diverse similarities. Grown up. But so divided. Even at middle age, or close to it, these characters–the sons, sitting at the dinner table, made me see retrospectively loss divided, loss that they already know; but, at the same time, they are accepting of what is lost and who they are. One son yet, however, hasn’t found a place for himself but is willing to accept the place he is in until he can find that place of his own. I was surprised at the willingness and patience he had with his father, played by Dern. The mother, played by Squibbs, isn’t as irksome as she may appear; however, she has a profound affect on the family’s decisions, what leads them to do what they do. Dern, always effective, his character learns to shield himself the only way that he is capable of knowing and doing–beyond alcohol; but he is aware of his decisions, albeit knowing he contributes to his family’s emotional suffering. Although short, Wilson’s character is well-thought out, meaning her positive countenance resembles a much needed patience that counters the family. A really good choice of opposing characters screenwriter Nelson applied, that bite into dark humor within a rural landscape through black and white film intrinsically resonates.


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