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Rafer Guzman’s “Nebraska” Is a Pretty Sparse Place

In response to Rafer Guzman’s 331‑word review of Nebraska on Newsday

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Rafer Guzman, in his “‘Nebraska’ review: Bruce Dern shines,” describes the film as “slightly thin,” a description which proves apt for the review itself, a slight, somewhat unsubstantial piece which ultimately offers just enough to warrant a read.  

For such a short review, it’s hard to justify the amount of time (two paragraphs) Guzman spends highlighting the career of Bruce Dern. Granted, Dern is the lead here and there’s significant buzz surrounding his performance, but when you’ve only got 331 words, running down Dern’s filmography hardly seems appropriate.

To be fair, he does transition this tangent into a discussion of Dern’s “heartbreakingly helpless” performance as Woody and then leapfrogs that into a quick critique of Will Forte’s first dramatic turn.

Readers are given a relatively brief synopsis and then Guzman launches into his critique, a paragraph and a half of fairly useful stuff; the film boasts “Payne’s trademark combination of low-key humor, poignancy and an overall feeling of Beckett-esque resignation,” but the “mood tends to speak louder than the story.”

The writing is serviceable and gets the job done without any missteps, but there’s no outstanding wit or turns of phrase to help set this one apart from a rather sizable crowd.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation