One nasty piece of exploitative bunkum, Swedish-born video director Johan Renck’s pain-filled, painful display of sadomasochistic behavior, “Downloading Nancy” was soundly trounced upon its Sundance 2008 debut, despite its cast of Maria Bello, Jason Patric, Rufus Sewell and Amy Brenneman bringing their efforts to a grave, airless script with Neil Labute-like pretensions by Pamela Cuming and Lee Ross. Bello, raw, enervated, plays a dejected housewife and part-time self-cutter who trolls chat rooms to find a murderer to kill her. She meets a man who monikers himself ” Deep Pain” (Patric) and leaves her husband of fifteen years (Sewell) to explore possibilities of life toward death. Cinematographer Chris Doyle (“Chungking Express,” “Lady in the Water,” “2046,” “Paranoid Park”) lays on fluorescent pallor with economical consistency and zero emotional impact. It’s gloomier-looking than even fellow Swede Roy Andersson’s wonderful bleat of despair, “You, The Living,” at Facets. The result is less competent filmmaking than an apt metaphor for shitting ice cubes. Fetishism has seldom been shown as so deadly dull. Bello and Patric fulfill their characters’ emptiness. “Life is like being trapped in the wrong house, looking for a way out,” Nancy muses. Theaters, unlike life, are easy to escape. 102m. (Ray Pride)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.