If one thinks hard enough, there are some interesting topics thrown around in "Nostalgia". The trouble is, it takes slogging through and hour and 45 minutes of the most somber, melancholic film you've ever seen in order to actually get to those themes. It isn't worth the wait, at that.
For a basic plot summary, "Nostalgia" is told over a series of vignettes that loosely work together to create a theme. In one, an old woman (Ellen Burstyn) loses her home (and nearly everything in it) to a fire, and must come to terms with the importance of objects vs. memories. In another timeline, siblings Will (Jon Hamm) & Donna (Catherine Keener) must clean out their old childhood home, and then face their own personal tragedy.
Like I said, there are some interesting themes to chew on here, especially involving the concept of memories vs. physical items from loved ones. As we all grow older, it is interesting to consider what we will leave behind and what of that will be considered "important" to future generations.
A few good themes do not a good film make, however, and in pretty much all capacities "Nostalgia" is a complete mess. This is a film that really needed a stable environment all the way through, but instead it takes the opposite approach and skips from scene to scene and time to time with very little (if any) connective tissue to bind it all together. By the time the movie had ended, I was left wondering exactly what the first half had to do with the back half (besides a few concurring themes), and that's not good.
The acting is pretty good here (notably Hamm, who seems to be doing great work everywhere these days), but too often it only involves characters staring off into the distance or "reflecting", which doesn't come off all that well on the big screen.
Overall, I was mostly disappointed with "Nostalgia" for its inability to create any sort of substantial narrative (disjointed or otherwise) and being so somber all the way through. Whether intentional or not, this comes off as one of the most depressing movies you'll likely have watched in awhile.
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