Some combination of the current climate of social discourse and political drama as well as a mile-wide, inch-deep character foray in Mark Pellington latest film make Nostalgia not too particularly compelling, try as it might. Some people may have tears and sympathy for those in this grief-filled drama, but it’s going to have to exist without much work by the filmmakers.
Nostalgia focuses on the keepsakes held onto by an ensemble cast, including Jon Hamm and Ellen Burstyn, and hopes that the audiences, like these saddened figures, will joined them in memory and misery. The film is a series of subsequent events, following a character across a few scenes, only to have them pass on the film to someone else, all while loss, remembrance, and despair fill the conversations.
Bruce Dern is a prickly widow; Burstyn is now without her longtime home and all mementos after a fire sweeps through her house. Hamm is divorced and relegated by family to go through his parents abandoned mansion, in which he grew up. There is tragedy, reflection, pensive stares, and lots and lots of crying.
Which is not to say that Nostalgia isn’t worth a viewing – it just feels incomplete. There is a curious concept and a definite sincerity here, but the execution doesn’t quite make it. Characters are not layered, but more so ideas, simply empty vessels to convey a particular point. What’s more, the entire film feels almost stale, immobile. Perhaps it’s too much to except a film that dabbles with loss and death to be more lively, but the story presented as it is feels better suited to stage than to film.
Nostalgia presents lots of pain and suffering, seemingly enjoy all, a concept one character specifically references. You will definitely be heart stung, lest you fight with all your might. It’s pretty unlikely though you will find any enjoyment here.