Review of St. Vincent & Carrie Brownstein Film: The Nowhere Inn
ATTENTION: some mild spoilers ahead
The Nowhere Inn is a mockumentary written by Annie Clark (St.Vincent) and Carrie Brownstein (Sleater Kinney, Portlandia) and directed by Bill Benz. The film sets you up to witness the behind the scenes experiences of two best friends trying to create a documentary. Both Annie Clark and Carrie Brownstein play themselves using biographical scenarios throughout the story. You are prepared very early on with the premise that something will go horribly wrong with this documentary and their relationship as it’s made very clear that they are “best friends” excited to collaborate.
The first scene really stuck out for me as Annie pokes fun at not being a very well known famous person. The limo driver interrupts her peaceful ride through the desert to have her explain who she is multiple times and makes it very clear that he knows tons of famous people. She finally ends the convo by saying in an incredibly modest way, “That’s OK. I’m not for everybody.” After that the limo stops abruptly and the limo driver disappears. That’s when I thought, “Ok this film is about to get weird.”
As Carrie prepares for what will be the best film she has ever made, her friend, this eccentric rock star, is quite boring on tour. It leaves you falling for the normal rock goddess that is not quite fitting to the persona she plays in her performances and music. Some of the scenes make you laugh and wonder “Does St. Vincent really play scrabble after an amazing performance?”
Everything is going well till Carrie pushes Annie to be “more interesting”. There are times it seems like Annie is battling with her own identity. Should I be what the fans want me to be? Should I put on the same show when I walk off the stage? There is definitely something deeper in some of the scenes even though the movie does follow more of a humorous approach until things get kind of odd. It definitely does not get as weird as I anticipated but some of the scenes are quite Portlandia-ish.
One of things I found the most interesting about the film was some of the more biographical subjects that came up. Things that Annie Clark does not normally like to speak about in interviews. It almost feels like she puts it out there as if it’s time to lay it all to rest. Things like her sexuality and how her father is in prison (movie was made before his release). In one scene she claims that she will need to leave her girlfriend to “feel pain” in order to write the next album. She has expressed discomfort in the past when asked about whether experiences in her life influence her music. In this mockumentary, she discloses that MASSEDUCTION was influenced by a break up. It’s assumed that she is poking fun at herself but also gives her fans and the press what they have been looking for from her personal life.
At the very end of the movie, there is a bit of a twist that I did not entirely get. The film does leave you with a few questions though. Does an artist have to live up to whatever expectations the fans put on them? Is the point of a music documentary to show the real artist or is it a place where the artist chooses to control the narrative? What the hell happened to the limo driver? Either way you are left with no true answer. You leave the movie with a humorous take of an artist’s identity crisis.
If you are a big St. Vincent fan, you will definitely love the film. It features new music and live performances. If you are a Carrie Brownstein fan, you will also love this film as it has a lot of her influence as a writer and her character is full of classic Brownstein facial expressions and character twists much like some of the characters she has played in the past. If you were just dragged to the movie by a fan, I think you would still enjoy the film. The Nowhere Inn is currently playing in select theaters in the NY metro area and is streaming on multiple platforms. Find more information here.
St. Vincent is also currently on tour and will be playing The Met in Philly on Monday, October 11th and Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday, October 12th. See all of St. Vincent’s upcoming tour dates and information regarding tickets here.
– Rosi Lamela
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