The Nowhere Inn (2020)

Quick Synopsis: Annie Clark (a.k.a St. Vincent) is having a documentary made about her by her friend Carrie (best known from Sleater-Kinney) and is asked to disappear into her alter-ego to make the film more interesting in this mockumentary/concert film.

This was an interesting idea. I like mockumentaries, and like them even more if they’re not comedies. If they go dark, even better. Also, I love the music of St. Vincent so this should be ideal for me.

A strange film that makes no sense, but in a way the fact it makes no sense makes perfect sense. I was all ready to talk about how it should have been less creepy at the start. About how it should have fooled you into thinking it was just a standard documentary about St. Vincent before hitting you with the weirdness. That would make sense from a film-making perspective to lure people in. But then I thought about it, they allude to the fact that this has been edited and made from what they captured for the documentary, and if the events actually happened to this character and they wanted to tell people about it, they would lead with the weirdness wouldn’t they? Plus, by the end, Annie Clark has morphed into her alter-ego of St. Vincent so she would see no problem with exposing the weirdness of herself.

For the first half of this film, I was fully on board with what they were doing. I was interested and wanted to see what happened. But then it got a bit “too” weird and it became more about the weirdness than the narrative. Now I like weird, but what I will always love is a good story, well told. And this film is so focused on becoming a weird experience that it is lacking the storytelling aspect of it in the second half where it just becomes almost like a student art film.

It started to lose me when the St. Vincent character started to take over. The personality shift is a bit too jarring. She goes from 1-100 way too quickly when it should have been gradual. One minute she’s giving free tickets to someone because she is too awkward to say no, and the next she’s making a sex tape with Dakota Johnson. The aforementioned scene with the free tickets is delightfully awkward though, the interviewer getting her to apologise to her girlfriend for her. It’s delightfully awkward and helps tell you a lot about the character.

Might be a weird thing to state about a mockumentary, but it feels like it lacks truth. It’s like they wanted to delve deep, perform an emotional autopsy, but then shied away at the last second. Like there are times where it feels like the film is just a way for the actors to really discover who they are as people and do an emotional deep dive on themselves, really exploring their personalities. But when it comes close to really exploring who they are, it decides not to.

On the plus side, the performances are perfect throughout to the point where there are times you forget you’re not actually watching a documentary. The characters aren’t quite perfect though. Both characters feel incredibly selfish and stupid in how they react to each other. There are two scenes that follow each other, one is where Annie is hosting an obviously fake scene for the documentary. Carrie then derides that for being too fake, and then takes her to go see her father in prison “so I can get real emotion from you”. Just makes them seem incredibly self-involved and selfish.

If you are a massive fan of the artist you may get more out of this, but if you’re going in not knowing too much then it might feel lacking. You probably will love the music though.

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