“Every Scrap of Grace”

Chloé Zhao’s film Nomadland (Searchlight, 2020) demonstrates how peace can be found in less than ideal circumstances. The film centers around Fern, a woman who has lost her job and her husband; “houseless,” she takes to the open road to work temp jobs and live in her van. Fern is grieving but also captivated by the beauty of creation and reverent of the personhood of the other roving nomads she meets. Justin Chang writes, “It would be hard to overlook the spiritual presence—a good word for it would be ‘grace’—that hovers over every frame of this movie and the spare, wrenching story it has to tell. Sometimes that grace manifests itself in the unobtrusive beauty of Joshua James Richards’ widescreen images, in the gentle curve of a highway or the sunlight gleaming over a crowded RV park. … We sense Fern’s gratitude as she tucks into a hot cup of chili with other hungry travelers, or her satisfaction when she glues together the broken pieces of a plate, a cherished gift from her father. ‘OK,’ she says, appraising her good-enough handiwork. Like her fellow nomads, she’ll take every scrap of grace she can get” (Justin Chang, “Review: Frances McDormand Is at Her Finest in ‘Nomadland,’ a Sublime Ode to American Wanderlust,” San Diego Union-Tribune, February 18, 2021, https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/movies/story/2021-02-18/nomadland-review-frances-mcdormand).