“Going Nomad,” the first pic based on a new NYC trend tagged the Nomad Movement, is an awkward and flawed affair, but is quirky and original enough that limited arthouse distribution should not be out of the question if it can gather steam on the fest circuit.
The Nomad Movement purportedly involves professional New Yorkers who stay up all night and cruise Manhattan’s streets in their cars. They do this to release work and life stress and to “escape” into the mysteries of the metropolis. While this sounds ridiculous (when do these nomads sleep?), the fad has already received prominent press play in Gotham.
Named after his mother’s favorite movie, El Cid Rivera (Damian Young) is a 32 -year-old East Village slacker who can’t hold a job and is desperately looking for fulfillment in his life. He finds that gratification by “going nomad.” In other words, he drives around the city all night, peacefully thinking and absorbing the bright lights of Manhattan (per the picture, nomads never leave the island borough).
Scripter-helmer-nomad Jones has trouble structuring a compelling narrative, but he scores points in the way he captures the loneliness and dreaminess of big city life.
The loose story that follows El Cid’s humdrum existence is consistently interrupted with weird inserts that have fellow nomads explaining in poems what draws them to this way of life. These scenes are blanketed by booming background music that makes them memorably surreal and oddly touching.
Tech credits are a little rough, and supporting performances are distracting exaggerations, but pic ultimately works because of Young’s droll, touching performance and Jones’ obvious fondness for the city and the activity that he captures so effectively.