'Downloading Nancy' - DVD Review

Exclaim.ca, February 2010
By Robert Bell

Coming home from yet another day at the office, designing escapist lounge environments for golf enthusiasts, Albert Stockwell (Rufus Sewell) discovers a note from his fragile, damaged wife of 15 years, saying she is off with friends. After years of taking for granted the woman he shares a home with, ignoring the scars and cuts up and down her arms and legs, deliberately avoiding her efforts at conflict and passion, Albert is presented with the reality that Nancy (Maria Bello) is gone.

Feeling numb and caged, unable to interpret personal value outside of negative stimulus, believing herself deserving only of pain and anger, Nancy has sought an escape online, looking for the perfect person to give her release from this world.

Similarly pained and connected only through suffering, Louis Farley (Jason Patric) promises Nancy her escape, hitting her, putting out cigarettes on her vagina, tying her up and, unbeknownst to him, falling in love. It's an ugly world these people live in, characterized by steely blue-grey, partially empty rooms that are sparsely decorated and an aching silence.

While overwhelmingly grim, Johan Renck's exploration of pain as a reminder of self and cyclic modes of worldly interpretation and identification is full of unhinged emotion. Bello, Patric, Sewell and even Amy Brenneman, in her brief role as a psychiatrist, study and understand their characters with an unflinching profundity usually masked by directorial styles and traditional narrative trajectories.

Fortunately, 'Downloading Nancy' presents a disturbing and uncompromising vision of passion and desire unconcerned with pat resolutions or audience security. For most, a film of this nature acts as a threat, challenging perceptions of the other repressed and denied side of romance and self-identification, and seems likely to be dismissed as exploitative garbage resultantly. This is for the viewer to decide, as a small percentage of the population should genuinely appreciate something that doesn't patronize them. No supplements are included with the DVD, save a trailer.

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