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Much of the criticism I’ve heard about Nomadland is that it doesn’t more forcefully editorialize. America’s broken healthcare system, Amazon’s labor practices, the shredding of the social safety net: they’re all there, but we don’t hear about them. And indeed, I was surprised by the gentleness of the film, waiting in vain for something terrible to happen. In her Vulture profile of Chloe Zhao, Allison Willmore nicely sums up the difficulty of telling these kinds of stories:

That remains the impossible battle at the heart of representation: wanting to acknowledge the wounds that exist and to draw attention to neglect and oppression while trying not to be reduced to those things onscreen, to escape from the expectations of miserablism.