‘All About Nina’ Is The Powerful Story We Need Right Now
For those that follow me, you know that I’m a stand-up comedian along with being a writer on this very site. I’ve been involved in comedy for a little over a decade and I’ve come across all sorts of comedians along the way. I’ve considered myself an ally to women, LGBTQ+ and marginalized people for a long time as well. I’m obviously not perfect, but I’ve always been on their side and I always will be. This week, the stories of abuse victims came to the forefront of the media in a very public way with the hearing for SCOTUS nominee, Brett Kavanaugh and allegations made against him for sexual assault and harassment. The hearing has made this an absolutely nightmarish week for survivors of abuse and to say that the week has been hard for a lot of people would be an understatement. I bring all this up because I just walked out of the new film, “All About Nina”, and I’m here to tell you that it’s the movie you need to watch in a time like this. Onto the review, readers!
In her feature film directorial debut, filmmaker Eva Vives brings us a story of pain, laughter, struggle, triumph and more in “All About Nina”. This is the story of up & coming comedian Nina Geld, played masterfully by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and her struggle with a past she’s kept secret from the world all the while trying to make it big in a notoriously difficult industry for women. The film begins in NYC with Geld playing clubs, unleashing her caustic style of brash & sexually charged humor on the masses. On stage, Nina talks frankly and openly about relationships, sex, drugs and life as a woman trying to date in the big city. It’s material that’s been touched on a million times over in the real stand-up comedy world but Winstead brings such an authenticity to the character that it comes across as original. Jay Mohr plays a fellow comedian, obsessed with Nina, that helps her even though he wants to fuck the hell out of her. Almost immediately, we’re shown that the film isn’t all jokes, though. After a set, Nina gets hit on by a guy at the comedy club bar, goes home with him only to encounter her married, police officer fuck buddy that’s let himself in. Random dude leaves, married cop punches Nina in the face and they fuck. The “post coital” encounter comes across less as a “attracted to the abuse” situation and more of a “trapped in a cycle of abuse” scenario. Nina uses this to write some dark material and attempts to bury the pain.
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Shortly after this, the story shifts to Nina’s agent getting her an audition in LA for a show called “Comedy Prime”, which is pretty much “SNL” without being called that. It’s the big time, a huge break and would literally make her career. She stays with her agents friend (who is the polar opposite of Nina, making for some great chemistry) and moves to LA for good. In LA, she meets a guy named Laife, played by Common, whom she falls for and it’s the first real relationship she has had except for the abusive, married cop. The chemistry between them is scorching hot. It’s fun, intimate, natural and for lack of a better term, intense. I’m not going to reveal too much more but I am going to say that Nina is a character that many people will sympathize with and understand. The emotion that Winstead brings to the screen during certain parts of this movie is insane. She does it so well that it’s as if she lived through this life herself. I’ve always been a fan of Winstead but this may be her major breakout role. Her performance at some points brought people to tears. And as far as the stand-up comedy parts are concerned, I was impressed. She’d never done it prior to the film and she fucking nailed it.
The screening I saw had a Q&A with Winstead and she couldn’t have been more awesome in person. She’s extremely down to earth and you could tell that she truly put everything she could into this role. While answering certain questions about some of the more difficult parts of the movie, she started crying because of what was on screen and how much she had to tap into some seriously dark parts of another persons real life. As it turns out, the movie is basically a biopic of director Eva Vives. This fact alone makes Winsteads performance stand out that much more. In one word, I can describe this film as powerful. And it is very powerful…but it’s also important during this time. Comedians should see this for obvious reasons but I honestly think a lot of men need to see this film so you can stop asking the question “Why didn’t they speak up sooner?” That question is answered in a very big way in this movie. I wholly enjoyed this movie, I’ll be seeing it again and I can’t recommend it enough. This was a home run for me. Go see “All About Nina” as soon as you can.