Review by James Lindorf
Writer and Director Eva Vives’ latest R-rated dramedy, All About Nina, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Fargo) and Common (Selma), will be available digitally and on DVD December 18th. Nina is working the comedy clubs in New York with her unique blend of insightful but crass humor. Desperate to escape a toxic relationship Nina finally takes the plunge and moves to LA, with hopes of landing a gig at the legendary Comedy Prime. As her career picks up, so do the complications to her personal life, forcing her to come to terms with what it means to be creative, authentic, and a woman in today’s society.
Casting Director Rich Delia put together a cast filled with comedic talent including; Jay Mohr, Mindy Sterling, Angelique Cabral, Clea DuVall, Kate Del Castillo, Nicole Byer, and Beau Bridges. Their strong supporting roles give each of them a moment to take center stage, but the film is carried by an outstanding performance by Winstead. Nina is a talented comedienne. She is smart, witty, brutally honest, but above all else, Nina is a mess. She battles nerves that force her to vomit after every set. She is a borderline alcoholic. She is terrified of commitment, and the closest she has ever gotten is having multiple sexual encounters with an abusive cop with a wife and kids. Winstead is able to deliver every facet of Nina’s personality with believability and passion. She also displays impressive comedic timing during the stand-up scenes.
Common, who plays her LA-based love interest, Rafe, a stable 42-year-old owner of a construction company that may or may not have a habit of “ghosting,” is the weakest part of the film. Common is usually someone I really enjoy, but for most of the film, he just didn’t feel natural as Rafe. It seemed as if he was always thinking of how to be the character instead of actually being him. That could be due in part to Rafe not being a very realistic character. He is 42, owns a very successful business, spent time in a band that put out at least one album, and was a marine. He is the perfect blend of sweet and manliness, and is the best sexual partner of Nina’s life. The shortcomings of the character and the performance were only highlighted when compared to what Winstead was doing as Nina.
Vives was able to take a generic storyline, add some interesting characters and get good performances out of nearly everyone. All About Nina could have had an actual social impact if Vives steered into the MeToo Movement elements of the script, but they all are either too little or too late. What Vives was able to do was create a film that gave her star a chance to shine and will serve as a great balance to the deluge of overly saccharine Christmas movies we tend to overindulge on this time of year.
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