After the accumulation of Indie-Lincs earlier this year, in which some of the finest independent filmmakers and their films came to Lincoln, Obscure Corner presents a series of reviews by Luke Compton, focusing on homegrown indie films.
It is with great regret that my first review for Obscure Corner is a negative one. Indeed, Nina Forever had heaps of potential, but failed to live up to its smart premise. This film follows a suicidal man, Rob (Cian Berry), who engages in a sexual relationship with co-worker Holly (Abigail Hardingham). However, things become complicated when Rob’s previous girlfriend, Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy), comes back from the dead to torment the couple each time they have sex.
As you may gather, the film is strange. Interestingly, it overly enjoys being so. Nina is characterised as sarcastic, witty and morbid. It adds black comedy into the mix and certainly doesn’t help you put a label on the film, not that it needs one. It’s very unique and respectably original. There are few films comparable to this and I love seeing a directorial debut be so bold.
Despite all it has going for it, however, I found that Nina Forever – like Nina herself – is a flatline from start to finish. The beats are relatively uninteresting and nothing truly gripping ever occurs. The film meanders along, thinking itself as engaging, but in essence, doesn’t draw you in. It’s a film concerned with character through and through, but the characters it’s concerned with are uninteresting. Only briefly does the film reach its potential by having Nina come out with some great lines – “I do not want for anything.” Indeed, it’s intriguing to get the perspective of a deceased woman who only gets to live briefly in these intimate moments.
There is something which I do appreciate a lot in the film, and that is how I don’t think the film is truly about Rob or Nina. Instead, it seems to be about Holly; a girl desperate to break away and prove herself as daring and risqué. At the start of the film, her boyfriend breaks up with her because he’s too “dark” for her and she’s boringly “safe”. Later on in the film, she brings Rob to a graveyard at night to have sex with him. She has a clear arc where she spends the film trying to be someone else, proving herself as an interesting person to everyone around her. She’s a well-written character in this respect and her relevance to the film is more prominent than you’d expect.
Again, though the film has a lot of potential, it just seems wholly uninteresting and unremarkable. It hardly goes places you don’t see coming, and each beat becomes more tiresome than the last. The premise is wasted on the mediocre execution. No emotional investment develops, the performances aren’t incredible, the genre-bending doesn’t consistently work, and so the film never goes anywhere captivating.
Overall, Nina Forever is interesting on the outside but doesn’t have much to offer on the inside. There are a few interesting elements, but the film just never reaches the potential it has at face value. Despite the faults, it’s still an applaudable directorial debut (Ben and Chris Blaine) and is definitely worth seeing solely for its creativity and dark style.
Written by Luke Compton