Streaming highlights May 7-12: The Handmaid's Tale, Nomadland, Rutherford Falls

STOIC: Elizabeth Moss is again amazing in season four of The Handmaid's Tale, but the lack of forward momentum is tiring.
STOIC: Elizabeth Moss is again amazing in season four of The Handmaid's Tale, but the lack of forward momentum is tiring.

THE HANDMAID'S TALE - SEASON 4

SBS On Demand

IF you've persevered to season four of The Handmaid's Tale, hats off.

That's not to say it isn't a gripping TV series, because it is. But boy, is it bleak. Yet finally after three seasons and 36 episodes, June (Elizabeth Moss) finally appeared to be gaining the upper hand. Season three ended on the cliffhanger as June lay shot and bleeding as a plane of children and handmaids flew out of Gilead for Canada.

After spending the first two seasons traumatised and beaten, the brooding anger so wonderfully portrayed by Moss has bubbled to the surface with ruthless revenge.

June is taken to a safehouse by other members of the handmaid's resistance group, the Jezabels, where she meets the vengeful Mrs Keyes, the 14-year-old wife of the 80-something Commander Keyes, who spends his days in a medicated state.

Mrs Keyes becomes June's surrogate daughter, who is only too eager to satisfy her growing bloodlust.

However, no house in Gilead remains safe for long. June is soon captured and mentally and physically tortured yet again and we're back at square one.

After three seasons of watching June and her handmaids receive constant abuse, The Handmaid's Tale is a masochistic kind of viewing. An upward swing in fortunes could be required if season four is to maintain viewers.

ACCLAIMED: Oscar-winner Frances McDormand in Nomadland.

ACCLAIMED: Oscar-winner Frances McDormand in Nomadland.

NOMADLAND

Disney+

WHEN you lose your home and sense of belonging, where do you go? That's the question at the heart of Academy Award-winner Nomadland.

Director ChloƩ Zhao's film didn't win three Oscars last week for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Female Lead (Frances McDormand) by accident. Nomadland is rich, timely and thoroughly original.

It tells the story of 60-something widow Fern, who lost her husband and job following the US recession caused by the GFC. She hits the road in a camper van, discovering a new-found community of grey nomads as she grieves for what she's left behind.

Nomadland is directed like a reality TV documentary and many of the characters are played by actual grey nomads. Therefore what the film lacks in narrative drama, is offset by authenticity.

ANNOYING: Ed Helms is Nathan Rutherford in Rutherford Falls.

ANNOYING: Ed Helms is Nathan Rutherford in Rutherford Falls.

RUTHERFORD FALLS

Stan

IT'S not difficult to imagine there being real-life characters like Nathan Rutherford inhabiting small towns all cross the US, and Australia, too.

Rutherford is a self-righteous historian, whose passion for Rutherford Falls stems from the fact he's an ancestor of the town's founder. It regularly places him in opposition with the mayor and other residents that he separates as those that "get it" and those that "don't get it."

When a statue of Rutherford's ancestor is slated to be relocated because it's a traffic hazard, he starts a campaign to save the bronzed memorial and launches a tirade of abuse at his opposition during a public meeting.

The Hangover's Ed Helms is the executive producer and plays the lead character in his typically manic and exasperating style.

Rutherford Falls is a clever comedy in its critique of how society is reevaluating history, but Helms removes all likeability from Rutherford's plight.