All About Nina (CIFF 2018)

While we’ve seen a lot of movies about the stand-up comedy scene and how difficult it can, here we have a movie that uses it primarily as a way to espouse its protagonist’s feelings without narration, something that’s always appreciated. I’d rather have this sort of thing incorporated into the story than told at us. All About Nina isn’t about how difficult it is to break into the scene. For its protagonist, Nina (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), it’s a job; for the movie, it’s a device. The movie is about Nina and her attempts at growing as a person. Her profession is one part of that.

Mostly, it’s about Nina as she moves to L.A. in hopes of landing a spot on Comedy Prime—an SNL-like late-night show. She’s the type of comedian who holds nothing back on stage, even if that type of brute-force honesty doesn’t always translate to her personal life. Upon meeting Rafe (Common), and developing feelings for him, she has to finally come to terms with how she conducts herself off the stage, as well as potentially face some inner demons, in order to make her first real relationship work.

And if all of that sounds a little cliche, it is, but that doesn’t make it bad. It makes it familiar, sure, but All About Nina works in spite of that. It’s very funny, which helps us forget about how the story isn’t the most original, and it also contains a fantastic performance from Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She’s magnificent here, showcasing what might be her best work ever. The supporting cast is good, too, and the film doesn’t overstay its welcome, checking out just before we might start feeling like it’s running too long.

Conclusion: All About Nina is a fun ride with laughs, tears, and self-reflection.

Recommendation: All About Nina overcomes a familiar plot with a funny script and tremendous central performance, making it something you should seek out.

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