87 minutes, 2002, DVCAM

“This is Nowhere”
Video Librarian, August 2003
by M. Tribby

***1/2 - Producer-director Doug Hawes-Davis and director John Lilburn explore the intersection of two familiar entities in the American cultural landscape—recreational vehicle camping and Wal-Mart—in THIS IS NOWHERE, a marvelous look at nomadic RV-driving retirees and vacationers who crisscross the country camping in Wal-Mart parking lots. Apparently, the homogeneity of the Wal-Marts lends a continuity to their travels that the RV crowd finds comforting, and indeed that’s just one of the interesting ironies the filmmakers uncover here: the desire to explore the country while remaining in familiar surroundings. Many of the folks interviewed express an interest in seeing nature up close and personal, but they do it from the vantage point of paved roads and parking lots; they crave adventure, but they enjoy the security of the well-lit Wal-Mart parking lots (one man, traveling alone save for his cat, mentions that his previous tabby is buried in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Mexico). Like many people free to pursue their own happiness, the RV denizens are monumentally unconcerned with the contradictions of their lifestyle, but the accumulation of their personal stories offers viewers an entertaining and informative look at this little known subculture, a sort of suburbia on wheels. Would Jack Kerouac have ended up like this had he lived into his golden years and remained on the road? Probably not, but for many the road and Sam Walton’s shopper’s warehouse beckon. Highly recommended. Aud: H, C, P.