Nancy, Please

US | 2012 | Directed by Andrew Semans

Logline: A PhD candidate’s life unravels after he discovers his crucial study book is in the custody of his former, seemingly-impossible-to-reason-with roommate.

Paul (Will Rogers) finds himself in a Dickensian scenario, with no easy way out. Instead he digs himself deeper. But it’s only a book that he’s lost. Well, misplaced. It turns out Nancy (Eleonore Hendricks) has it. Well, she has the book in the house Paul once shared accommodation with. So, it should be easy to get it back. Wrong. Devil’s Law resides here. Nancy has sprouted horns and hooves and there’s a red gleam of cruelty in her eye. Paul is not going to get his Little Dorrit back so easily. He’s going to have to run the gauntlet to get his sweaty palms back around its dog-eared, note-strewn pages.

Paul fashions himself into the role of victim with a kind of masochistic glee. His friend Charlie (Santino Fontana) just rolls his eyes. His girlfriend Jen (Rebecca Lawrence) quickly finds her patience wearing thin as Paul’s behaviour become increasingly obsessive, and let’s face it, downright frustrating.

We’ve all been in this kind of situation; something that is valuable to us has become caught up in the vice of someone or something else and we’re working ourselves up into a right lather trying to get it back, acting irrationally even. It is this empathy that works in Paul’s favour. Nancy appears to be a right bitch. But we’re inclined to agree with Charlie. Just get it back and stop dicking around.

What makes Nancy, Please more than just an ordinary light-hearted drama is the hints, the nods, the leanings into other genres; chiefly horror/thriller territory. There are some great moments as the fabric of Paul’s sanity begins to tear a little. But Andrew Semans holds back, never pushing too far into that realm of fantasy, but just enough to make his lead character seem unhinged enough to continue his quirky path to deliverance.

Nancy, on the other hand, is an enigma wrapped up in an icy glare. Her story is revealed right at the very end, and it adds satisfying dramatic weight, especially combined with Paul’s own final reaction. That cigarette inhale/exhale never looked so perfectly placed.

Great performances from what is essentially a four-hander, with Will Rogers holding fort, but most notably Eleonore Hendricks, who with very little screen time essentially commands the movie; both as her elusive character, and the actor’s innate screen presence. As a title alone, Nancy, Please is this indie weakest link, but as an inky comedy of errors it charms with subtle delight.

 Nancy, Please is released in Australia through Curious Film.