Nostalgia | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


An ensemble drama tied to the theme of how objects in our lives stand in for memories


Mark Pellington’s ensemble drama presents a couple of loosely connected stories, all tied to the theme of how objects in our lives stand in for memories, particularly those of our deceased loved ones. The tales run on a track from prosaic — John Ortiz is an insurance investigator who is trained to see numbers, not the lives, in people’s remaining possessions — to the emotionally gut-wrenching. Some characters learns to embrace objects, others learn to let them go, and a particularly modern subset discovers that lives lived digitally leave few physical traces. Unfortunately, Nostalgia, penned by Alex Ross Perry, repeatedly spelled out each of its themes: It’s a bit insulting for viewers, all of whom can likely process such a universal topic as grief and loss, and it drags down the narrative. There are some good people on board, including Ellen Burstyn, Nick Offerman, Bruce Dern, Catherine Keener and Jon Hamm. Hamm and Keener do the heavy lifting in the film’s back half, elevating a rather maudlin story to something you at least enjoy watching them work through.