If you can’t take it with you, what happens to all the stuff you’ve left behind? That’s the question driving director Mark Pellington’s new film, Nostalgia, in theaters on February 16. Jon Hamm plays Will, a divorced sports-memorabilia broker who earns his living by convincing bereaved family members to cash in their loved ones’ treasures. Will’s life is upended when his aging parents move to Florida, and he’s forced to clean out his childhood home. Though he makes his living appraising heirlooms, he’s unsentimental about the artifacts of his own life, unable to understand why his sister (Catherine Keener) wants to put any of them in storage. But a tragedy forces him to realize that all this clutter—old records, handwritten letters, dog-eared paperbacks—actually amounts to a lot more than stuff to be sold at auction or simply thrown out.
It’s heavy stuff, for sure. But Nostalgia is full of insights that hit all men of a certain age. And that’s thanks mostly to Hamm, who inhabits the role of Will as completely as he did Don Draper in Mad Men. Death is a common theme in movies, but few films address what family and friends go through after the funeral. Nostalgia helps make sense of all the mess.