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With: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Common, Chace Crawford, Camryn Manheim, Jay Mohr, Mindy Sterling, Angelique Cabral, Clea DuVall, Kate del Castillo, Beau Bridges, Melonie Diaz, Todd Louiso
Written by: Eva Vives
Directed by: Eva Vives
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content and language throughout, some nudity and brief drug use
Running Time: 97
Date: 09/28/2018

All About Nina (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Eva Vives's extremely dark, brutal drama is made lighter by Winstead's aching, acidly funny whirlwind performance, as well as by the difficult hope that honesty and sympathy can eventually win the day.

In All About Nina, stand-up comic Nina Geld (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a promising career on stage, and her sexually frank act frequently results in many male admirers. However, her self-destructive, hard-drinking attitude never allows her to hang onto any relationships. Looking to get away from her doomed affair with a violent, married cop, she goes to Los Angeles and stays with the free-spirited Lake (Kate del Castillo) while auditioning for TV's "Comedy Prime" (a.k.a. Saturday Night Live).

Meanwhile, she meets Rafe (Common), an uncommonly trustworthy and emotional man who wants more than just a physical relationship. While dealing with all this new stress in her life, Nina takes the stage and suddenly finds herself confessing an ages-old dark secret that could change everything.

All About Nina may deal with the business of comedy, and a good deal of it is funny, but the actual weight of it lies in real-world pain, and the idea that all of Nina's neuroses (her caustic comedy, her penchant for meaningless sex, and her hard drinking), all come from one source.

Writer/director Vives, who co-wrote Raising Victor Vargas and makes her feature directing debut here, can't keep all this flowing smoothly. It's a bumpy ride, transitioned from the comedy stage to real-life by Nina's compulsive vomiting after every set.

The collection of supporting characters, from Common to del Castillo and Clea DuVall, Jay Mohr, Camryn Manheim, Todd Louiso, and a blink-and-you'll miss her Melonie Diaz, never really break past two dimensions, though Beau Bridges as the Lorne Michaels-like "Larry Michaels" has one of the movie's most powerful moments. Nevertheless, the movie's scorching devotion to truth and Winstead's amazing conviction make it a winner.

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