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Tribeca 2018: Mary Elizabeth Winstead stuns in "All About Nina"

by Jason Adams

If you hear a sliver of Margo Channing's famous warning echoing across All About Nina you should know it's not just because the title's a riff on that Bette Davis classic. It is indeed going to be a bumpy night, a series of them actually, for Nina (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and for everybody that comes into contact with her. Although there are interstitial daylight-breaks, Nina's life revolves around nights and the things that bump them. She's a comedian, and we know well by now how those lives are structured. Bump, bump, POW. Fasten them seat-belts, baby...

At this point we've seen many movies about the behind-the-scenes lives of our nation's troubled clowns. We know that the people who stand up there on the stage are doing so out of an insane compulsion, a howling inner turmoil, a need to self-flagellate in the public square. And All About Nina isn't the first to plant its flag squarely inside a Lady Comic's funny vagina monologues either - hell Obvious Child, not even the first itself, is still fresh in the mind.

But Mary Elizabeth Winstead's electric and stunning performance is so smashingly good, so incisive and dangerous, that this feels like a first anyway. Writer/director Eva Vives's debut feature feels like Lenny For Ladies. Lady Lenny. As in that Bob Fosse classic, when the comedian takes the stage and lays out their shit the movie just squirms there uncomfortably, and it's transcendent.

All About Nina feels entirely of this moment in time, too. Though the movie gets some charm and romanticism from Common (his best work to date) in a supporting role,  All About Nina gets real angry and real fucked-up too. It couldn't have happened, not like this, in another time or another place, it's America 2018, and we're all drinking and barfing together now. Let's ride through the bumps, lean hard into 'em, with all the world's Ninas;  shutting our mouths and listening to them is gonna save the shit out of us, if anything can.

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Reader Comments (6)

Winstead was terrific in Smashed and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Now this? Three very different characters, one undersung actress.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCash

Very happy for Mary Elizabeth. She was the best thing in all the titles mentioned and also in Fargo.

P.S. I've just read a review of a Tribeca movie STARRING Mary Kay Place and I'm in heaven.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Woohoo! She was a revelation for me in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Since then, I've been following her very closely!

Post Cloverfield, I also loved her in that Political Alien sitcom so know she can also bring the funny.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterhuh

So, so happy for Ramona Flowers.

April 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

She has always delivered even in rubbish like The thing but Smashed was her Acting coming out,she totally nailed that character.

April 26, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Oooh, I'm definitely going to have to check this one out.

April 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

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