The first thing we learn about Andrea Riseborough’s eponymous character in Christina Choe’s taut feature debut, “Nancy,” is simple: she’s a liar. Yet Choe’s sharp writing and Riseborough’s nervy performance only use that as a jumping-off point to craft a twisted and emotionally rich story that was good enough to pick up the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at this year’s Sundance, where it premiered. Plus, the film also offers Riseborough the kind of complex leading lady role she’s more than able to fully make her own.
Nancy’s lies initially appear to be her attempt to engage with a world that has eluded and likely discarded her, a 35-year-old nobody who toils at temp jobs, tries to launch a writing career, and is trapped in a messy house with her ailing mother Betty (Ann Dowd). She’s a little obsessed with the internet and her cell phone, burying her nose into screens while Betty belittles and berates her. Riseborough delivers most of Nancy’s lines with a flat affect, but it’s clear that plenty stirs behind her eyes.
Eventually, a bored Nancy happens to catch a local newscast dedicated to exploring the kidnapping of a young girl some 30 years ago, with her still-shattered parents (J. Smith-Cameron and Steve Buscemi) taking to the airwaves to discuss both the scholarship they’ve put in place in memory of young Brooke and to share an aged-up picture of what Brooke might look like today. She looks like Nancy. You’ll never guess what happens next.
Check out the first trailer for “Nancy” below.
“Nancy” will hit theaters on June 8.