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Downloading Nancy

1 rating: 3.0
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Genre: Drama, Action, Adventure
Release Date: January 21, 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Downloading Nancy

3 ½ Stars: LOVE and Murder Cannot Go Hand in Hand

  • Jan 20, 2010
Rating:
+3
With Valentine’s Day looming, one would expect a multitude of reviews about love stories and ‘chick flicks’. Well, I guess this is my way of contributing to a holiday about love albeit in my own very unorthodox manner. Everyone knows that I am different and while director Johan Renck is themes of love in it, it is anything but a conventional one. “Downloading Nancy” is a tale inspired by true events, (take note: ‘inspired’, not ‘based‘) and the film is an expression of a cold, cruel world that is lived in by the main character played by Maria Bello (Payback, A History of Violence).
 
Nancy Stockwell (Maria Bello) is a severely depressed woman who has suffered molestation as a child and who is now struggling with her marriage. Her husband Albert (Rufus Sewell) pays her very little to no attention, he is always distant and more interested in work-he rejects every effort she makes to connect sexually, physically, emotionally and psychologically. Nancy tries to keep things together by consulting with a therapist (played by Amy Brenneman) but all to no avail. Nancy is about ready to give up but rather than end her own life, she hires a mysterious stranger whom she met in the internet to do the job for her. But fate takes a strange turn when the two slowly begin to fall in love.
 
                Jason Patric as Louis in "Downloading Nancy."

                                   Maria Bello as Nancy in "Downloading Nancy."
 
The film’s narrative is told in a fragmented style with the scenes jumping back and forth to the present and to the past up till the film’s climax. Director Johan Renck displays a skill in portraying this depressing world that is lived by Nancy. I guess the film is also at heart a story about infidelity, escape and compassion. Yes, it may also be seen as a story about love and a very bizarre fulfillment. “Downloading Nancy” is a story that brings the emotional pain from the past, strengthened with the failures of the present. This is a story of a woman’s pure emotional pain further enforced by the one person she thought would ease such pain; never expecting the relief to come from unexpected sources.
 
Maria Bello is fantastic as Nancy. The actress is utterly effective as the film’s depressed protagonist. Her character is a ‘cutter’, she tries to mutilate herself with a razor blade, cutting her arm and thighs to feel and escape her emotional turmoil. I loved the way she appeared very real and not at all ‘whiny’, Bello expresses the emotions of her character through exercises in facial expressions, frustrated mannerisms and sighs. I found Bello’s portrayal to be believable that I had no problems buying into her torture. Her performance is matched by Rufus Sewell who is just so stoic and distant as her husband Albert. His indifference is just crushing as he coldly ignores her efforts to playfully pick a ‘food fight’ by the dinner table and insults her need to be made love to by ‘treating himself’ instead. The film has a lot of emotions going for it, and the direction does take the experience on a level that feels both surreal and challenging.
 
              Jason Patric as Louis and Maria Bello as Nancy in "Downloading Nancy."

                                   Maria Bello as Nancy and Rufus Sewell as Albert in "Downloading Nancy."
 
Infidelity is not the solution to the problems of a failed relationship, however, I see what Nancy is going through when she finally finds an ominous stranger in the person of Louis (Jason Patric). The two share is a different and odd type of togetherness that is based solely on pain and desperation. The scenes with the two can be very exhausting and sorrow but never for one minute did Bello appear shrill. The sex scene between the two is quite, in all honesty a little unsettling, as Louis combines some weird form of sadism at Nancy’s request. The one thing I didn’t exactly like are the scenes with Nancy’s therapist (played by Brenneman) that appeared a little forced and quite obligatory. I thought they didn’t match the power of the scenes with Sewell and Bello and even with Patric. 

                  Maria Bello as Nancy and Amy Brenneman as Carol in "Downloading Nancy."
 
The film also manages to become unpredictable in the film’s last act as we see Albert and Louis finally meet. The scenes were necessary to bring the film’s narrative to its resolution as we see the exchanges between Albert and Louis. Albert is distant while Louis is isolated; so do the math, the interactions are going to be one very erratic and strong experience. The film brings the viewer to a peek at the lives of strangers but the scene just leaves something unsettled. I guess if the movie had a flaw is that it should have been more powerful than was executed. While the direction and the narrative had great ambition, it fails to bring everything into bear. The final scene does give its title its definition, as sometimes we know people better through their musings in a computer.
 
“Downloading Nancy” is an art house film that is for the select few. It is somewhat slower paced and its dark tone may just turn off some viewers. There is an abundance of human anguish that we don’t even see a sincere smile on anyone’s face. The performances by Sewell and Bello are one for the record books but it is something you may only want to see once. The ending also needs a stronger resolution. Despite its flaws, it is a good film but not something I think would appeal to most viewers.
 
Recommended timidly, Rental first is suggested. [3 ½ Stars]

A Lunch.com Exclusive Review

 
3 ½ Stars: LOVE and Murder Cannot Go Hand in Hand 3 ½ Stars: LOVE and Murder Cannot Go Hand in Hand 3 ½ Stars: LOVE and Murder Cannot Go Hand in Hand 3 ½ Stars: LOVE and Murder Cannot Go Hand in Hand

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January 26, 2010
Ah, at last a romcom from Woopak! lol
January 26, 2010
LOL! at least close to it...
January 26, 2010
The closest to it you'll probably get, at least in American films.
 
January 23, 2010
Despite that this isn't one of your higher ratings, I'm still kind of interested in this... mainly because of the good cast.
Nice job, Woo-Dawg! (sorry, but that's going to be a new popular phrase, so get used to it)
January 23, 2010
This was one of those movies that I know was real good, but for some reason I just couldn't say that I enjoyed it (it is so depressing) which is why I rounded down the 3.5 star rating. Bello is just phenomenl here!
 
January 23, 2010
I'm reading this coz it's not my kinda movie. Self abusing myself is not my style; hehe... going to one such movie probably amounts to that ;-) Reading the review, well, only for you, Woo, only for you ;-) One wonders why people got married in the first place; you & I are not the person to answer that question! But for different reasons, I'm sure. Unorthodox you are... this for Valentine's Day? Oh no! :-D
January 23, 2010
Not to worry, I'll throw in a more conventional romantic flick by V-day..I promise! ;-P
 
January 21, 2010
Hmmmm... an arthouse murderous love story? I think I can dig it! The title of this movie is amusing, too. Thanks for the heads up on this one, Woo!
January 21, 2010
You're welcome, Lady D. It is a twisted love story but I guess it is refreshing to see one so cliched right? The acting was excellent the only complaint I have about it is that it approached its peak but it stopped short. It is also a little depressing.
 
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