The Movie Waffler New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - NANCY | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - NANCY

nancy 2018 film review
A disturbed woman attempts to convince the parents of an abducted child that she is their daughter.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Christina Choe

Starring: Andrea Riseborough, J. Smith Cameron, Ann Dowd, Steve Buscemi, John Leguizamo

nancy 2018 film dvd


Andrea Riseborough's rapid ascent continues with writer/director Christina Choe's feature debut Nancy, which along with Mandy is the second movie to arrive in recent weeks in which the British actress plays the eponymous character. It's a film that seems to have flown under the radar, but it features what might be Riseborough's finest work to date.

Her Nancy is a 35-year-old on the verge of becoming a crazy cat lady before her time. She lives in the frozen wilds of upstate New York with her obnoxious mother (Ann Dowd), a Parkinson's sufferer who insists on opening Nancy's mail and constantly moans about her daughter. With a trainwreck of a hairdo and a wild-eyed expression permanently etched on her face, Nancy is the sort of person you pray doesn't sit beside you on the bus.

nancy 2018 film review

A failed short story writer with a glove compartment filled with rejection letters, Nancy has built a Walter Mitty-esque fantasy life for herself. With a gallery of presumably photoshopped pictures on her phone, she convinces her coworkers at a dental clinic that she spent her vacation in the unlikely destination of North Korea. She maintains a blog in which she pretends to be pregnant, having lost a previous child, and even dons a fake stomach to meet a grieving father (John Leguizamo) who has connected with her equally false stories of bereavement, but her ruse is found out when she bumps into him a few days later, her stomach as flat as a snooker table.

When Nancy's mother passes away, she receives a new lease of life. While watching the local news, she learns the story of Leo (Steve Buscemi) and Ellen Lynch (J. Smith Cameron), whose five-year-old daughter, Brooke, disappeared 30 years ago. Noticing a striking similarity between herself and the age progression portrait the police have mocked up, Nancy contacts the Lynchs, claiming she believes herself to be their long lost daughter.

nancy 2018 film review

Choe shoots the opening act of her film in boxy academy ratio, with the screen opening up to the now conventional 1.85:1 format once Nancy is invited to the home of the Lynchs. It's a visual signifier of a potential new chapter opening in Nancy's life, and indeed in the lives of the Lynchs. Ellen, presumably so desperate for good news, accepts Nancy immediately, while Leo is more skeptical, hiring a private investigator who takes saliva samples from the trio to determine whether Nancy's DNA matches the people she claims are her parents.

The Lynchs invite Nancy to stay at their home while they await the test results, which should be ready in three days. In the time they spend together, Ellen grows more attached to the young stranger she so hopes is her Brooke, and even Leo begins to warm to the idea that Nancy's story may be true. Even we, the audience, find ourselves second guessing the scenario. Perhaps Nancy is actually telling the truth for once? After all, we learned earlier that her birth cert mysteriously disappeared, and she does look an awful lot like the police mockup. Maybe, just maybe.

nancy 2018 film review

Regardless of its validity, Nancy's presence appears to have a positive effect on Ellen, and it seems that even if the results come through negative, she might want Nancy to become a permanent fixture in her life, a surrogate daughter of sorts. As we saw in last year's Christine, in which she played the loving mother of Rebecca Hall's doomed titular protagonist, Cameron has a natural ability to provoke empathy in viewers, and her performance here is as gripping in its own way as that of Riseborough. Perhaps best known to cinephiles as the wife of filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, her screen appearances are all too infrequent.

It's a rare complaint in this era of bloated running times, but Nancy ends in a manner I found frustratingly abrupt. I was fully invested in the dynamic between Nancy and her potential parents, and I could have gladly watched another hour of their tense but tender interactions.

Nancy is on DVD and VOD November 5th.


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