“It’s like my dad used to say. What’s remembered lives.”
It’s a recollection Fern (Frances McDormand) shares with her friend Bob (Bob Wells) towards the end of Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland (2020). Bob responds with recollections of his own, telling her about the son he lost to suicide. “One of the things I love most about this life is that there’s no final goodbye,” he offers, speaking about the advantages of his nomadic lifestyle. “You know, I’ve met hundreds of people out here and I don’t ever say a final goodbye. I always just say, I’ll see you down the road.”
Film student Dries Beenaerts uses that lengthy dialogue between two of the film’s main characters in its entirety as the auditive bedrock under this elegant supercut. His edit compiles many of the driving shots in Zhao’s film: contemplative, often silent shots of McDormand alone at the wheel of her van, traversing barren landscapes. The metaphoric quality of her travels is not something the movie hides: it’s a classic example of how the road movie is used as a mental journey more than a physical one. But this supercut, and the combination of the images with the aforementioned dialogue, makes crystal clear that in this case the travelling is not an escape, nor is it necessarily a process of spiritual healing. It’s about the connections one makes down the road – with new and old loved ones, with people lost and gained. There’s no start or end to this road, and that is expressed beautifully in this supercut.