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Dana Stevens’s “Nebraska” Is a Poetic Paean to Payne’s Picture

In response to Dana Stevens’s 1301‑word review of Nebraska on Slate

By ,

The line between true art and simple review is often difficult to discern; you just know it when you see it. And Dana Stevens’s “Nebraska” is it.  

It’s easy to forget that film critique is an art form, especially when it has become diluted by so many pretenders (i. e. everyone and their mother’s brother with a computer, a domain name, and a DVD collection), but Stevens restores faith in the medium, elevating it to former glory and making every critic green with envy (in fact, one fellow critic blatantly ripped off her opening).

The prose is a marvel to witness. Stevens vibrant writing keeps the tone buoyant, even when the truths she expounds are achingly painful. She manages to be witty without being cutesy, probably because her profound witticisms are more Shakespeare than Alfred E. Neuman.

Her critiques are steeped in a deep understanding of the art and history of filmmaking and her arguments are beautifully possessed of a richness of character that lends an easy gravity to every bit of analysis she offers.  

This is a poetic paean to Payne’s work and a transcendent piece of film critique that should be at the top of the list for fans of criticism.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation