Andrea Riseborough stars as Nancy Freeman in Christina Choe’s gorgeously shot debut feature. Nancy lives in a small, snowy town in America with her mother. She has just got an internship at a dentist’s office, and spends her spare time on the internet pretending to be a pregnant woman named Becca.
Loss is a central theme to this film. Each character at some point has lost someone close to them. It is through this individual loss that each character creates a bond. Nancy shares the loss of her child with other characters. Jeb (John Leguizamo) lost his child also. Betty and Leo (Ann Dowd and Steve Buscemi respectively) lost their child, Brooke, 30 years ago. And this is where the plot really starts off. Nancy believes she may be Brooke, the child that has been missing for 30 years. After she is digitally aged, and through the use of her printer and holding said photo up to her face – Nancy sees the resemblance between herself and Brooke. Following a phone call to Betty and Leo, the distraught parents of the missing child, Nancy is invited to their house, to see if her claims are true.
It’s when she arrives at the house that the seed of doubt is firmly planted into the still fresh ground of the audience’s mind. Nancy acts with timidity. Leo doesn’t appear to believe her, whilst Betty has already seemed to take Nancy in as her daughter- even letting Nancy sleep in their missing daughter’s bedroom, which hasn’t changed in 30 years. When a private agent arrives to take swabs of each person’s saliva, Nancy appears increasingly uncomfortable, yet lets the swab be taken. Her character is hard to trust. We know she has lied in the past, and her body language and facial expressions all point towards her lying – yet there is still hope.
The film is shot gorgeously by cinematographer Zoe White. The snowy landscape makes for intensely white shots- making Nancy’s dark clothes and pitch black hair jump from the screen. One particular scene of Nancy running in the woods makes for striking imagery, as the black trees reach their bony fingers out, covered in the crisp snow.
NANCY is a thrilling film with brilliant performances. Just don’t expect all your questions to be answered. Nor all your answers to satisfy. This is definitely a film of uncertainty.