‘Nancy, Please’: A Film Review

- October 4, 2012

"...a unique experience that explores the human tendency to refuse responsibility and what happens when obsessions get the best of us"

This blog is written on behalf of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and will serve as an honest, unbiased review of a few films that will be screening this year. Hopefully, these reviews will inspire conversation and discussion amongst other viewers and encourage the over all appreciation and dissection of this art we call film.

"Nancy, Please" is Andrew Semans' directorial debut about a grad student seeking to reclaim a book from his former roommate. On the surface, the plot seems shallow and lacks intrigue, but the artistic vision for this film elevates this story to an almost comedic psychological thriller that comments on the powers of self destruction. 

At first, the audience sympathizes with the main character: Paul, a mild-mannered PhD student at Yale trying to finish his dissertation. Conflict arises when Paul and his practical, responsible girlfriend Jen, move into a new apartment together. While unpacking, Paul discovers he is missing his copy of Charles Dickens’ "Little Dorrit," an essential piece of material containing several notes needed to complete his dissertation. Realizing that he must have left it behind at his previous residence, he must then face the challenge of getting it back from the unpredictable and rather hostile ex-roomie: Nancy.

Moving forward, it is slowly revealed through conversations with his academic adviser that Paul is struggling, facing an ultimatum to either finish his work on time or be dropped from the program. So, when his desperation to reach the elusive Nancy increases, it is understandable. Jen and Charlie, Paul’s best friend, are supportive and encouraging as he becomes increasingly frustrated with Nancy’s mysterious refusal to cooperate and return the book. However, their sympathy (and the audience’s) begins to fade when Paul’s need for the book accumulates to more of an obsession as he becomes lethargic and lazy, refusing to start fresh and move on with his thesis.

This is the beginning of the downward spiral of self destruction that strains himself and his relationships to the breaking point. Paul is so hung up on the injustice of Nancy’s thievery that he cannot move on and continue his work, blaming every subsequent misfortune on her alone and refusing to accept his own role in his downfall.

The tone of the film is modern and homey, sticking mostly with cool color palettes and a general overcast look. Will Roger's depiction of Paul is highly believable, accurately following the character’s arch from relatable to annoying to pathetic. Santino Fontana and Rebecca Lawrence provide solid support as Jen and Charlie while Eleonore Hendricks gives just the right amount of hostility and instability as the infamous Nancy. 

Andrew Semens has delivered a unique experience that explores the human tendency to refuse responsibility and what happens when obsessions get the best of us. This is  a film absolutely worth watching.

Rachel Anderson hails from the land of Portland, Oregon and is currently a film student at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Having been an avid film watcher from an early age, she is interested in film simply for the love of it. While not in school or working part time at a theater, she seeks as much involvement and experience as possible in the industry.