Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Nancy, Please: Put that in Your Thesis
world anxiously awaits a new PhD thesis on Little
Dorrit. A grad student has promised
to deliver, but he is running late. Conflict
with a former roommate will badly sidetrack him in Andrew Semans’ Nancy, Please (trailer here), which opens this
Friday at the reRun Theater in Brooklyn.
Brawley thinks he has turned a corner moving in with his girlfriend. No longer must he endure his anti-social
ex-housemate, Nancy. Unfortunately, he left behind his study copy of Little Dorrit, with all his precious notes
on the endpapers. It ought to be a
relatively simple matter to retrieve it from Nancy, but things escalate with
every ignored call and missed connection.
As Brawley’s frustration with Nancy mounts, both his mental and physical
health deteriorates and his relationship suffers.
film seems to think it has some major jujitsu in store for the audience, but it
is nowhere near as clever or shocking as it thinks it is. Semans makes a key error apparently assuming
viewers will automatically identify with a hipster Yale TA rather than a
waitress with “bad hair.” In truth, most
viewers will be ready to go all in with Nancy after the first twenty minutes—half
an hour at the most.
least, Will Rogers does his job, maximizing Brawley’s annoying qualities at
every turn. To her credit, Eléonore
Hendricks largely manages to preserve Nancy’s ambiguousness, while simultaneously
maintaining her intensity. Santino
Fontana also provides some interesting moments as Brawley’s
devil-on-his-shoulder friend Charlie.
Yet, it is impossible to invest in the fundamental clash of former
all fairness, perhaps your faithful correspondent is not the best person to
cover Nancy, Please, having little
patience for writers who cannot grind out their hack work, such as Brawley’s
tiresome thesis. Regardless, watching his
fall from grace is oddly uninvolving. It
is like recognizing a homeless panhandler was the grade school bully from your
past. Intellectually you can acknowledge
the waste involved, but emotionally it leaves you unmoved. While not an affront to cinema (thanks
largely to some interesting supporting performances), Nancy, Please ultimately falls flat and rings hollow. It opens this Friday (5/24) at the reRun in