Originally intended to be a documentary, as St Vincent explains in the opening shot —almost as if under interrogation by the audience — The Nowhere Inn takes a multitude of twists and turns. It blurs the lines between personality and performance, friend and foe, fantasy and reality.
Directed by Bill Benz, the film follows Annie Clark/St Vincent as she sets out to make a documentary with her IRL best friend Carrie Brownstein. CB as director, Annie as the star, even from the opening act it is obvious this film is not a documentary, as the duo play surreal caricatures of themselves in this genre mash-up.
Throughout the film, it becomes apparent that Annie Clark is indeed too boring to create a documentary about herself, failing to do anything other than maintain a balanced diet and workout routine, play some video games and generally just exist. Through some light encouragement from Carrie, Annie channels her inner diva and transforms into St Vincent full time. Naturally this process causes her to lose her sense of self, her authenticity, and her best friend. What follows is a series of dream-like shenanigans, some humorous, some hurtful, as Carrie and Annie’s friendship is pulled apart.
It must be noted, as the target demographic (a massive lesbian and St Vincent fan), this film hits all the spots; entirely pandering to the sapphic celebrity culture we’ve come to know and love. A surprise cameo from Dakota Johnson as St Vincent’s girlfriend is certainly enough to get the lesbians losing their minds. The film serves as a constant back and forth between fan service and satire.
The Nowhere Inn is packed to the brim with potential, showcasing the creativity and talent of Brownstein and Clark – it would be incredible to see what these two could come up with for a genre specific film, as the genre blending in The Nowhere Inn certainly aids the narrative more so than hinders it, but the lack of genre boundaries leaves the overall production feeling messy.
The final act is by far the weakest part, as the ending takes a lot of risks – some that don’t pay off. By the end it feels like several different films loosely tied together by an outrageously impressive aesthetic. Visually, the film is almost hypnotic as the contrast with the all-powerful St Vincent on stage and her new found sense of bitch-self off stage make for some truly Lynchian moments.
Overall, The Nowhere Inn is probably far less enjoyable and rather pointless if you’re not a lesbian or a St Vincent/Sleater Kinney fan. That being said, the film is laced with truly authentic and entertaining moments which can easily be enjoyed by a wider audience.
The Nowhere Inn is out in cinemas and on VOD from September 17th
by Kelsie Dickinson
Categories: Anything and Everything