‘Nebraska’ explores life’s consolation prizes

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Nebraska,” the latest from Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”), is a desolate comedy-drama about fathers, sons, life’s highways and missed off-ramps. The plot is a close cousin to Payne’s 2002 “About Schmidt,” with Bruce Dern as an ornery old coot on a 900-mile road trip to claim a sweepstakes prize and Will Forte, unexpectedly good, as the grown son trying to get him there.

Shot in a black and white that tends to the glow-y, infrared end of the spectrum, it’s a movie about ghosts, the American promise of a quick million, and a man driving his own car for three blocks. Despite some easy cynicism about Midwesterners, the film floods you with emotion when you least expect it. With June Squibb and Stacy Keach.

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