All About Nina is a highly personal film grounded in the world of stand-up comedy that delves into Me, Too territory.
Nina Geld (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a rising comedian in New York City and she’s crassier than Sarah Silverman. Listen, stand-up comedy is no doubt dominated by men and Nina has worked her butt off to get to where she is today. Her sets come through with raw talent and emotion. On the other hand, her personal life isn’t all that fun. She’s having an affair a married police officer, Joe (Chace Crawford), who can’t even go through with leaving his wife for her.
Instead of focusing all of her issues on Joe, Nina decides to focus on her work and a spot on the legendary Comedy Prime (a take on Saturday Night Live) run by Larry Michaels (Beau Bridges, not doing any impression of Lorne Michaels). It’s after the showrunner sees Nina’s set in which he decides to have her audition for the show. This requires Nina to leave New York for Los Angeles and come up with characters for the show.
Upon the move to LA, Nina encounters Rafe Hines (Common). Rafe is that guy who anyone would want to spend their time with. Unfortunately for the two, Joe finds out Nina’s whereabouts and he is not having any of it! There’s a lot of chemistry between Nina and Rafe. There’s something beneath the surface that’s nice and pleasant with how Rafe behaves himself.
The Comedy Prime audition sees Nina competing with Mika (Ramona Young), Yolanda (Andree Vermeulen), Leslie (Nicole Byer), and Maria (Cate Freedman). Among these comedians, it’s Teachers co-star Cate Freedman who steals the show.
Give writer/director Eva Vives a lot of credit for not only writing the screenplay but writing the stand-up comedy bits seen in the film as well. This isn’t something that would come easy for anyone who doesn’t perform stand-up comedy. But Vives not only writes the stand-up sets but she nails it, too. Her writing/directing combined with Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance help the actress come off as a natural stand-up comedian. Mary is absolutely awesome in her performance. Award worthy, too.
While All About Nina sets the narrative in the world of stand-up comedy, it’s a relationship-driven comedy at its core. There is a major revelation that take the film into Me, Too territory. A lot of Nina’s stand-up and anger is driven from the events that happened to her as a kid. The anger and pain is very real. It’s rooted in abuse and nobody should have to go through those experiences and yet Nina’s on-stage breakdown goes viral.
What’s really interesting is that there were two films premiering at Tribeca with lead characters in stand-up comedy and have similar life experiences. One is All About Nina and the other one was Jellyfish.
Led by great performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Common, writer/director Eva Vives has announced her presence as a feature filmmaker with All About Nina.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Eva Vives
CAST: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Common, Chace Crawford, Clea DuVall, Kate del Castillo, Beau Bridges
An official selection of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, All About Nina premiered in the US Narrative Competition.