Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Nancy, Please

Andrew Semans presents an engrossing psychological thriller for his feature debut.

May 22, 2013

-By Frank Scheck


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1377638-Nancy_Please_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

You wouldn’t think that a film about a graduate student’s attempts to retrieve his copy of the book Little Dorrit from a former roommate would make for compelling viewing. But Nancy, Please, Andrew Semans’ arresting feature debut, turns out to be just that. This subtly engrossing psychological thriller plays like an intellectual version of Fatal Attraction, minus the sex and the dead bunny. And that’s meant as a compliment.

The central character is the mild-mannered Paul (Will Rogers), a Yale PhD student whose unfinished dissertation depends on the notes he wrote in his tattered, hardback edition of Dickens’ classic novel. The problem is that he left it in the house he formerly shared with his roommate/non-girlfriend Nancy (Eleonore Hendricks). When he contacts her to pick it up, she’s initially cooperative. But every attempt he makes to do so proves fruitless.

Paul, who’s clearly already on shaky academic ground as evidenced by his tense interactions with his graduate advisor (Novella Nelson), becomes increasingly obsessed and desperate. At first his girlfriend Jen (Rebecca Lawrence) and best friend Charlie (Santino Fontana) try to help, but their patience with his obsession eventually wears thin. “I withdraw my support,” announces the disgusted Jen at one point.

Paul’s attempts to reason with Nancy, who he dubs a “creature of hate,” fail to produce results, with their encounters becoming increasingly hostile. Things escalate even further when Paul, having found an old key to her house, lets himself in one night when he thinks she’s not home and she promptly pummels him with a baseball bat.

Although Nancy is seen only fleetingly for most of the film’s running time, a final confrontation scene provides some depths to her previously baffling motivations while not making her any more likeable.

But likeable is not what the director—working from a smart, darkly funny screenplay co-written with Will Heinrich—is going for. Indeed, the initially sympathetic Paul gradually reveals himself to be an immature screw-up who all too eagerly exploits his current predicament to avoid responsibility for his own failures.

Rogers delivers a perfectly calibrated performance as the slowly unraveling Paul; Hendricks provides just the right touch of ambiguous menace as his adversary; and Lawrence and Fontana are appealing as Paul’s increasingly frustrated support system.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Nancy, Please

Andrew Semans presents an engrossing psychological thriller for his feature debut.

May 22, 2013

-By Frank Scheck


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1377638-Nancy_Please_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

You wouldn’t think that a film about a graduate student’s attempts to retrieve his copy of the book Little Dorrit from a former roommate would make for compelling viewing. But Nancy, Please, Andrew Semans’ arresting feature debut, turns out to be just that. This subtly engrossing psychological thriller plays like an intellectual version of Fatal Attraction, minus the sex and the dead bunny. And that’s meant as a compliment.

The central character is the mild-mannered Paul (Will Rogers), a Yale PhD student whose unfinished dissertation depends on the notes he wrote in his tattered, hardback edition of Dickens’ classic novel. The problem is that he left it in the house he formerly shared with his roommate/non-girlfriend Nancy (Eleonore Hendricks). When he contacts her to pick it up, she’s initially cooperative. But every attempt he makes to do so proves fruitless.

Paul, who’s clearly already on shaky academic ground as evidenced by his tense interactions with his graduate advisor (Novella Nelson), becomes increasingly obsessed and desperate. At first his girlfriend Jen (Rebecca Lawrence) and best friend Charlie (Santino Fontana) try to help, but their patience with his obsession eventually wears thin. “I withdraw my support,” announces the disgusted Jen at one point.

Paul’s attempts to reason with Nancy, who he dubs a “creature of hate,” fail to produce results, with their encounters becoming increasingly hostile. Things escalate even further when Paul, having found an old key to her house, lets himself in one night when he thinks she’s not home and she promptly pummels him with a baseball bat.

Although Nancy is seen only fleetingly for most of the film’s running time, a final confrontation scene provides some depths to her previously baffling motivations while not making her any more likeable.

But likeable is not what the director—working from a smart, darkly funny screenplay co-written with Will Heinrich—is going for. Indeed, the initially sympathetic Paul gradually reveals himself to be an immature screw-up who all too eagerly exploits his current predicament to avoid responsibility for his own failures.

Rogers delivers a perfectly calibrated performance as the slowly unraveling Paul; Hendricks provides just the right touch of ambiguous menace as his adversary; and Lawrence and Fontana are appealing as Paul’s increasingly frustrated support system.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

Final Member
Film Review: The Final Member

Breezy documentary about the aging owner of a small Icelandic museum dedicated to penises and his quest for one last, coveted exhibit is a charmer, thanks to the warmth and sly sense of humor the protagonist brings to his unusual hobby. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here