Nancy, Please | Movie review
An ex-roommate makes life hard for a procrastinating grad student.
How do you solve a problem like Nancy? So wonders Paul (Will Rogers), a frazzled Yale grad student whose twentysomething life is not a Lena Dunham plateau of ennui but a slippery slope into madness. Having just moved in with his eternally patient girlfriend (Rebecca Lawrence), Paul discovers he forgot to pack something crucial: his dog-eared, self-annotated copy of Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit. He needs the book to finish his dissertation, which—two years into his program and much to the chagrin of his adviser—he hasn’t written a word of. Too bad his ex-roomie (Eleonore Hendricks), the titular harbinger of doom, won’t return his phone calls. Or answer his texts. Or even bring the tome outside to him when he arrives unannounced at her door at 11:22pm…
Equal parts dark comedy and serious psychodrama, Andrew Semans’s feature debut takes its time unraveling the mind of its protagonist. That’s a good thing: Unlike many portraits of dissolving sanity, Nancy, Please offers a gradual—and plausible—escalation of troubles. The filmmaker’s smartest move is suggesting Paul’s woes could be entirely of his own making. Early scenes establish him as a destructive procrastinator, while later ones reveal Nancy may be less the “creature of hate” he dubs her and more of a convenient scapegoat. (It’s an idea the movie only half commits to, partly because Hendricks is so convincingly bilious.) Nancy, Please hasn’t much to offer beyond the amusing spectacle of a complacent college boy losing his cool. But that may be enough, especially for those who’ve sparred with archrivals of their own—real or invented.