The Nowhere Inn (2020)

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Image via miff.com.au

Messy, arty and wry, this mockumentary by Bill Benz weaves the true-life friendship of Carrie Brownstein and Annie Clark, stage-name St. Vincent, with a rumination on fame, identity and artifice.

Carrie Brownstein plays a version of herself as a gawky, anxious writer/performer, worried that her recent pilot wasn’t picked up and hitting on the brilliant idea to make a documentary about her friend Annie Clark. It means they get a chance to hang out while Annie is on a sold out tour and her plans to make a film are making her ailing father proud.

The fly in the ointment is the realisation that Annie, who on stage as St. Vincent is an Amazonian banshee, is more of an introverted nerd while on tour; playing Scrabble and video games, extolling the virtues of tasting the dirt in vegetables and with a fascination for radishes. Even her band members struggle to find anything interesting to say about her. But Brownstein’s suggestion for Clark to be a bit more interesting so that she can make a better documentary scratch the surface of artistic insecurity that sees Annie transform into the diva she thinks others want her to be.

St. Vincent / Annie Clark dominates this film and it is worth the price of admission just to watch her. She plays herself as ordinary friend, neon latex-clad rock goddess and sleek android-like prima donna, shifting seamlessly between each persona. You get the sense that she is playing all the versions of herself that other people create for her and, known for her privacy and refusal to reveal her personal life, she is showing us everything and nothing about herself.

Toward the end it swirls into a Lynchian fever dream that seems to have no end nor easy resolution. It is clever and sardonic, bringing us full-circle to a realisation that we have learned nothing. Nice ride though.


Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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