Downloading Nancy (2008)

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Maria Bello
Maria Bello
Rufus Sewell
Rufus Sewell
Jason Patric
Jason Patric
Amy Brenneman
Amy Brenneman
Michael Nyqvist
Michael Nyqvist
Review by Tristan
Added: July 26, 2009
The drama / thriller is really not my genre of choice. 99% of the time I would pass on a film of this nature. However, there was just something about the story that intrigued me. After finally seeing a trailer for it not too long ago, I knew that I had to see this film. For those of you in the know, a few years back a man placed an ad on the internet looking for someone who would agree to being murdered and eaten. Might sound ridiculous, but this ad was answered, the request was carried out and the ordeal has now become something of a legend. The story was made into the movie Cannibal and needless to say, it was a very dark and disturbing film. Tonight's film borrows heavily from this story, but with some obvious differences.

Stuck in a lifeless marriage to a husband (Rufus Sewell) who has been so cold and distant for the last 15 years, Nancy (Maria Bello) is reduced to spending all of her time online and inflicting pain on herself just to know that she can still feel anything at all. It's online that she meets Lewis, another troubled soul who has what she is looking for: a way out. While most people would have an affair or leave their husbands altogether, Nancy has other plans. Telling her husband she's going to stay with friends, she meets up with Lewis and sets a plan in motion that will ultimately result in her death. The film follows Nancy's last few days with Lewis, and along the way we see a glimpse into her past through therapy sessions and a number of incidents where her husband has shunned her and forced her to the very edge of just how alone a person can be.

From the moment the film starts, you're supposed to know the ending. There's no two ways about it, and while they never directly say it until the final act, you know exactly what they're talking about. Even still, I did not know how it would end. A lot of scenes were filmed out of order and started and stopped without warning, leaving the viewer to piece together when they took place and how they fit into the story. As soon as the film ends, a title card appears stating the film was inspired by true events. I'm not sure if this was in relation to the incident I mentioned earlier or one more similar to this, but to be perfectly honest, it doesn't surprise me. We are becoming more and more reliant on technology, specifically the internet. You don't even have to leave your house anymore to obtain an armada of friends.

Bello, Patric, and Sewell all did a fantastic job in this film. Sewell barely had any dialogue, but managed to tell exactly the kind of character he was through body language alone. He had the cold and isolated husband so down pat, you'd think this was how he acted off of the screen as well. Jason Patric, who I haven't seen since Sleepers and before that was Lost Boys, also turned in a great performance. A lot of his character was left to the imagination and even though his whole purpose in the film was to ultimately murder Nancy, you could somehow relate with this man and almost feel sorry for him at times. Some of the more powerful scenes between Louis and Nancy involved almost no dialogue, and were shots of them finally meeting in person or were simply the two of them spending time together while Nancy lived out her last few days. Maria Bello has been making great decisions in the past few years, and with this one she turns in yet another gutsy performance. To see her transformation from an energetic and lively person into the crushed and reduced shell of a woman was almost painful to watch, and her scenes in the final moments of the film were very disturbing and hard to sit through.

Unfortunately, the acting is the best part of this film. It as a decent enough film, but it had its flaws. I found a few problems with Bello's character, where she seemed too over-the-top and cliched to be believable. On one hand, you empathize with her completely because of her cold and lonely marriage, but there was more than one occasion where her attention seeking outbursts had me saying "oh just grow up". I don't personally know of anyone who has been in her condition, and whether or not this is an accurate portrayal of a suicidal individual, but I found it to be a little much. This is not to say her performance was anything but fantastic though, more so the quality of the script.

Another thing that bothered me was the by-the-numbers style of shooting. I'm all for a cinematographer impressing mood with different colours and shades, but not an entire film. This is in no way an uplifting film, but it seemed that almost every shot was as depressing as the characters. A little variety can go a long way in a film like this. It very much reminded me of One Hour Photo, another film with a very dark and dreary tone. One Hour Photo pulled it off a little better however, as it was set almost entirely in the same location.

In the end, I was disappointed by this film. I was not expecting a fairy tale ending, nor was I expecting a movie of the year, but I was hoping for a little more. Everyone turned in a great performance, but sadly the script just wasnt there. I think with a little more life pumped into it, this could have been one of the best films of the year. The premise was certainly interesting and in the end it kept my interest for the entire running time. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there was just something out of place with this one. Perhaps Johan Renck's move into feature films wasn't the greatest idea. Sticking with music videos and commercials might be more his style. Still, I would recommend it, based on the performances of the three leads alone. For a film with so little dialogue, it definitely had a lot to say.

Chad #1: Chad - added 12/01/2009, 05:58 PM
I thought that this was a damned fine film, and the fact that it's legitimately based on true events (unlike most films that make that claim) makes this depressing film even harder to watch. It's a great storyline with some solid acting and some genuinely cringe-worthy scenes: what's not to love? Personally, I think it has a shot at making the year-end list. 10/10.
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