Film Review: Nothing Without You

So abysmal, so unintentionally funny.

For sheer weirdness, Isabelle Adjani in Adele H., Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and Kathy Bates in Misery are sisters under the skin to Emily Fradenburgh as Jennifer Stidger in Nothing Without You. Eternally bug-eyed, she creeps through the film, wraith-like and haunted. She's obsessed with dapper yuppie councilman Michael Greenwood (Joshua Loren), who’s very much married to Denise (Kate Bringardner). When Denise is murdered, Jennifer is haplessly on the scene and therefore accused of the crime. It then becomes her quest to uncover who really done it and, in doing so, she confounds a hysterically inept police force and nearly brings down the whole town. (Shady politicians are at the bottom of things, no doubt.)

This psychological thriller takes itself so seriously, it rather works as a low-level yuk fest, with its strained plotting and hoot-inducing, overripe B-movie dialogue. “Our connection was like a fine of 21-year-old Scotch, opened under the nose of an alcoholic," observes Jennifer of her initial passion with Michael. But nothing, really, can save this been-there, seen-it, done-better cinematic dog's dinner. The feminine images it presents—from Fradenburgh’s maniac to the unnecessarily bloodied and brutalized corpse of Brindgardner—are far from salubrious.

Fradenburgh, however, is intense, obviously feeling every twistedly rapacious fiber of her character, but her misplaced seriousness is risible: she begins to bear a strong resemblance to some demented younger sister of Amy Poehler. One scene, wherein she makes a calculated, suddenly bedizened pop-up appearance for Greenwood, plays like a small tribute to Stella Dallas. Loren, on the other hand, is as slick as a Barney's window mannequin with about as much depth. Keith McGill plays Jennifer's black court-appointed psychiatrist as even denser than Montgomery Clift in Suddenly, Last Summer, reacting with indefatigable, fresh horror to every unseemly revelation. Quite similar to the eternally kind Dr. Hibbert on "The Simpsons," he contributes nearly as much doleful hilarity as Fradenburgh, but it is Will Crawford who's the real scream as a baffled police lieutenant, barking out lines like, "Let's ping the cell phone number now and saturate the area!"