Movie ReviewsAll About Nina – A Powerful Female Character Study

Keith NoakesOctober 12, 2018

Stay tuned for one of the most powerful moments of the year so far with All About Nina.

Synopsis: Just as Nina Geld’s brilliant stand-up kicks her career into high gear, her romantic life gets complicated, forcing her to reckon with what it means to be creative, authentic, and a woman in today’s society. (The Orchard)

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Common, and Chace Crawford

Writer: Eva Vives

Director: Eva Vives

Rating: R (United States)

Running Time: 100mins


All About Nina may be a film about a stand-up comedian but this isn’t a comedy by any means. As you can probably guess, the film is about a wisecracking stand-up comedian named Nina (Winstead) with a rather raunchy sense of humor that was occasionally funny, however, may not be for everybody. As the story progressed, we discover that the persona she creates on stage isn’t necessarily the person we see in real life. Nina could be best described as a mess. When she wasn’t performing on stage, she often drank heavily and slept around with countless other men. She appeared to have some sort of troubled past where she perhaps used comedy as a defense mechanism against.

The bulk of the plot saw Nina taking her baggage to Los Angeles where she pursued an opportunity to potentially audition for a one hour comedy special. She was originally from New York City and had done pretty much everything she could possibly do there and one of her disgruntled suitors, a man named Joe (Crawford), forced her hand anyway. Once she arrived in Los Angeles, Nina had to get her legs under her so she began to perform around the city. While her trajectory may have been somewhat predictable, it was not any less compelling to watch. Someone was inevitably going to show up in Nina’s life and break through all the walls she had put up and that person was a man named Rafe (Common) who she met after one of her performances.

Nina’s brand of comedy wasn’t particularly funny but she was still fun to watch outside of that setting and while she was fun to watch during her everyday life, she was even more fun to watch with Rafe. He was the perfect person for her in more ways than one. Seeing her finally opening up and experiencing feelings that she never thought she’d ever feel and start to change her troubled ways was compelling to watch. Despite this, Nina and Rafe’s relationship still faced some issues. All these strange feelings she was feeling would lead to an identity crisis as her public and personal lives converged. The ultimate collision of these lives was a powerful moment, however, it could have been more so as the way in which Nina was handled over the course of the film could have been handled better. Also, some may not enjoy the abrupt ending.

The best part of the film, without a doubt, was Winstead’s powerful performance as Nina. The role of Nina was unlike any role she had ever played and perhaps that was what made it so powerful. The character may not be the most likable character but Winstead’s likability made the incredibly flawed Nina compelling to watch during both the comedic and dramatic bits. It would have just been nice to know what was beneath the surface sooner though the moment she finally let it all out was definitely one of the most powerful moments of the year so far. Common was great as Rafe and had excellent chemistry with Winstead. However, his character was thin and felt more like a plot device to help prop Nina up.

Overall, this was a compelling character study of an incredibly flawed woman with plenty of demons, propped up by a sharp script and direction as well as some great performances including a powerful lead performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in one of the most powerful moments of the year so far. It was just a shame that the film could have handled her character a little better.

Score: 9/10

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