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“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao’s latest film, is nominally a quiet portrait of a working-class woman, Fern (played by Frances McDormand), who lives in her van and works piecemeal manual labor jobs along the West Coast. But, really, it’s intended to illustrate a particular slice of America where the social safety net has failed — and what happens when the house in which you’ve lived is taken away, when the Social Security you’ve paid into for 50 years isn’t enough to retire on, when your loved ones all die and when it seems the only thing to do is leave it all behind. Based on “ Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century ” by Jessica Bruder, McDormand’s Fern is at loose ends after the small town, Empire, Nevada , that she lived in with her late husband — a real place that was turned into a ghost town by a mine closure — closed up shop. No longer housed inside of four solid walls, with little steady income, Fern is making due where her old life left off — sort of. Then, while working a seasonal gig at Amazon, Fern meets an older woman, Linda May, who befriends Fern almost against her will. They’re both parked in an RV lot, both living in their vans — along with the other seasonal laborers whose parking spots are paid for by the retail behemoth . Soon, that job ends, and with it, Fern’s last remaining tether to her old life. “I need […]