Ever since “All About Nina” had its world premiere on Sunday at the Tribeca Film Festival, critics have not been able to stop raving about not just the film and director Eva Vives’ work, but about Mary’s incredible performance in the role of Nina Geld. In the film, Mary plays a stand-up comedienne who flees to Los Angeles to escape an abusive lover and face her demons. As always, be sure to click on the provided links to read the reviews in full.
The Wrap writes: First-time feature director Eva Vives (who co-wrote “Raising Victor Vargas”) has a lot to say and finds some provocative ways to express it all. A major late-act revelation, in particular, is likely to be a significant talking point after screenings.
But the movie’s deepest emotional impact comes from an electrifying star turn by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The reliably excellent Winstead takes charge from the moment she swaggers on screen as Nina, a 33-year-old stand-up whose brutal cynicism hides a lifetime’s worth of secrets. There’s a much trickier and more dramatic segment later in the film, which isn’t as deftly written. But it is played with stunning power by Winstead, who fully sells every up, down and reversal Nina experiences. Though the material isn’t quite ready for primetime, Winstead once again proves herself a major player.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead deserves an Academy Award nomination for this performance. “All About Nina” would not be the same without her. A comic with a fear of intimacy, a performer who vomits after their act, these are not inherently original concepts. Winstead, however, shows you them in a way that’s wholly unique. Laid bare at times both emotionally as well as physically, Winstead is asked to do it all. Two very different stand up routines showcase this as well. One is her aggressive, sexualized act, which is meant to put up a wall. The other is a full-blown confession, which is unlike any other stand up set you’ll ever see. It has stayed with me in a big way. If there was any justice, that would be her Oscar scene. Simply put, Winstead has always been a talented actress (“Smashed,” among many other examples), but this is career best work.
The premise offers plenty of room for yet another impressive performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead; balancing its darker moments with humor and warmth, the picture has a broad enough appeal to — finally, movie gods? — get Winstead onto the first-choice lists of top-tier filmmakers. Phobias and lousy decisions notwithstanding, Winstead is no typical rom-com neurotic in the role. The actress makes Nina self-aware and unapologetic, in command of her art if not her libido.
Premiering in Tribeca’s US Narrative Competition, All About Nina should travel further thanks to its of-the-moment female protagonist and Winstead’s memorable performance. It should also help bring Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, TV’s Mercy Street and Fargo) and Vives the mainstream attention they deserve.
Winstead is so strong here that her co-stars can’t help but pale slightly in comparison. An electric turn from Mary Elizabeth Winstead pulses through this striking feature debut from short filmmaker Eva Vives, which effectively shines a light on issues of honesty, identity and equality through the story of a stand-up comedian transplanted from cacophonous New York to the more introspective LA. While the character’s resulting journey of self-discovery may follow familiar lines, it is bracing nevertheless.