NANCY opens with the title character, Nancy (Andrea Riseborough) looking after her ill-tempered mother, Betty (Ann Dowd, last seen in HEREDITARY). The mother is ungrateful, nasty, impatient and rude making Nancy wonder the reason she is that way, as she has always been pleasant towards her mother. The two watch OLIVER TWIST on television, the Charles Dicken’s story of an orphan.
When the mother dies, 15 minutes into the film, Nancy watches on television the news of a mother who has had lost her daughter about 30 years ago. Nancy thinks she might be the missing daughter and contacts Ellen (J, Smith-Cameron) and her husband (Steve Buschemi). Nancy heads out to meet them, the meeting being the rest of he film. Revealing more of the plot would definitely spoil the film’s effectiveness. All that needs be said is that writer/director Choe has made an effective psychological mystery drama.
The film is set in winter in the country where Ellen and her husband live. The falling snow and snow covered woods are beautifully shot by cinematography her Zoe White, who went on to shoot THE HANDSMAID TALE after being noticed for her work in this film.
NANCY speaks to a lot of Americans for reason of the main character’s demise.
NANCY gives voice to and represents the many disappointed, disconnected twenty-
first-century millennials making up the first-world. These are adults struggling to grow up, yet
unable to identify where boredom ends and untreated mental health issues begin. Nancy is a confused grown-up kid, unable to really function socially, unable to afford to fly the coop, their
youth saturated by inflation, aware of the dream that capitalism promises, yet living on the
outskirts of its failings.
Longing for physical connection, and attempting to find it through online self-
misrepresentation, Nancy has a short meeting with a well-meaning Jeb played by John Leguizamo. Nancy wrestles with unemployment, only able to obtain a temporary job with insufficient hours. The character also, when the film opens, has returned from a visit to Korea – not South but North Korea, to the surprise of the person Nancy was speaking to. Nancy claims that it was easy to go there. The choice of North Korea depicts the kind of vacation Nancy would be interested with – going to a country with dispirited and oppressed people. Director Choe herself has visited North Korea.
The film’s message comes across loud and clear as voiced by Ellen (J. Smith-Cameron, who delivers the film’s best performance): “We have to appreciate what we have now. It is the only thing that matters.”
NANCY belongs to the category of low budget films that often struggle at the box-office but is worth a look for effort and result. The film has already received accolades having been nominated for the following two categories of ‘Best First Screenplay’ and ‘Best Supporting Female’ for the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards. In addition, the film won the ‘Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award’ at Sundance this year.
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