This slow-burning drama is set in an Indigenous reservation in South Dakota, where Johnny is a teenager who dreams of moving to L.A. with his girlfriend. He would have to leave behind his little sister, who is just grappling with the recent loss of their father.
Director Chloé Zhao (The Rider, Nomadland) worked with amateur actors whose lives mirror the characters, often adapting the script to the actors’ stories. She filmed 100 hours of footage that she then distilled into an hour and a half.
The result is a film shot from the outside but which is grounded in local stories. And these stories are rough, sad, complex – but so important to listen to and understand. It’s an incredible feat to make an observational film that’s so grounded in reality – only a genius could: that’s Chloé Zhao, and this mature work is -somehow- her first feature film.