I didn’t hear about this film until about February, because if I had before it would of certainly made it onto my most anticipated of the year list. The premise is maddening and sick, it got rave reviews out of festivals and the trailer was killer, of course it would’ve ranked high in that list, then again, so did Hail, Caesar! Unfortunately, as cool as it looked, Nina Forever went down the Caesar! route and only ended up being ok.
It was off to a great start, the film is shot expertly. The film has a dark, lush look to it and I was intrigued by the opening shot that seemed to linger on for quite a bit. Then you get introduced to your title character and she also does a great job of selling the darkly comedic tone the film was going for, a really cool soundtrack, some creative editing, and the film is off to a bang (no pun intended). Just in case you didn’t know, Nina Forever tells the story of a couple that whenever they try to have sex, Nina’s (the boy’s dead-ex) bloody undead corpse surges from their sheets and lingers around as the ultimate cock-block. So, the event occurs and the film flows nicely, the bucket of bizarre is poured onto the scene and what O’Shaughnessy (Nina) does with her character is great as she recites witch-like poetic dialogue under a morbid, dry sense of humor tone mirroring that of Louis C.K. The event happens several times and at first its equally as shocking but then its sent to obscurity and even ignored by the main couple itself, which means we have to endure some weird dark path Hardingham’s character (Holly) takes to try and honor the legacy of someone she didn’t know just to abandon it by the end.
The film isn’t a creature feature and more like a transformation film in the same vein as Cronenberg’s The Fly. Its got its unholy visitor, but the film is about relationships and moving on, the problem here being that in The Fly, Goldblum undergoes a huge transformation both physically and physiologically by the time we get to the end of the film, here that is built up with some great scenes (particularly one involving a tombstone) and then the idea of moving forward is partially thrown out the window, meaning we get half the satisfaction we should’ve gotten. I don’t want to spoil the finale, but I do have to say it was unsatisfying.
There’s something really weird that happens in Nina Forever, where Cian Barry’s acting isn’t the greatest at first but then progressively gets better as his character arc gets more interesting and on the opposite side, Abigail Hardingham acting starts off at a high-point and progressively gets worse alongside her character’s journey. Which leads me to saying this film is a very interesting experience with some faulty components that detract it from reaching its goal. It could be great but it’s just ok. As I was saying, Barry’s acting improves alongside his character-work and that is thanks to the relationship they establish between him and Nina’s parents. Though her parents might not be the most interesting characters in the world so they do serve their job in propelling Rob’s (Barry) narrative forward. What happens with Hardingham I can’t really comment on because it stills confuses me because she is never bad in the film, she just becomes slowly becomes a drag.
With that said, I must say do check this film out if you want something different. Its an unpredictable experiment with highs and lows and even though its not great, it does provide some great dialogue, editing, and premise to keep you interested. The characters function in the story with Nina definitely standing out anytime she showed up. The film is inconclusive though and has some trouble with its pacing because it felt really long despite only being about an hour forty. Nina Forever is a dark fairy-tale that needs some fixing but still has enough in it to keep you invested and provide with something unlike anything you’ve seen before.