All About Nina is about a stand up comic who gets her big chance and meets people who urge her to face her truth all at the same time. The results are a trainwreck. There are minor spoilers ahead.
A brilliant Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Nina in All About Nina. She tells crude jokes, does imitations, sings, drinks too much, is inappropriate, and finally faces her truth behind a microphone in front of a very large audience.
Nina’s doing stand up in New York when we meet her. She’s involved with an abusive married cop named Joe (Chace Crawford). When she’s not with him, she’s with whoever she picks up for the evening.
Her agent Carrie (Angelique Cabral) calls with the news that she can audition for Comedy Prime. Comedy Prime is an obvious SNL knockoff, complete with a boss named Larry Michaels (Beau Bridges). That’s the good news. The bad news is that they are auditioning several women because they’ve been criticized for being too male. It’s not a sure thing.
Nina says goodbye to her mom (Camryn Manheim) and heads for LA to audition. While she’s there she stays with Carrie’s friend, Lake (Kate del Castillo).
Lake is a little on the woo woo side, but advises Nina to deal with her own truth. Lake’s girlfriend Paula (Clea DuVall) is there, too. Nina watches them have an argument over a sponge that is like no argument she’s ever seen – nobody raised their voice, nobody got violent. When it was over, there was a solution to the sponge problem. Nina was amazed by it. So was I. Arguing 101.
Nina does stand up gigs while waiting for the audition. After a gig, she meets Rafe (Common). He’s different. She feels differently about him than anyone she’s met before. And he keeps pestering her to be truthful.
The big chance at Comedy Prime, the guy she feels safe around, all the advice to face the truth – it all just explodes one night when she’s on stage. It isn’t a pretty scene. It isn’t fun to watch. Mary Elizabeth Winstead killed at it.
The remainder of All About Nina deals with the fallout from that moment.
There are funny moments in the film, but underneath it’s a serious look at coping with trauma and dealing with the past.
All About Nina was written and directed by Eva Vives. She was also a writer on Raising Victor Vargas, another movie I liked. All About Nina is streaming on Netflix, Amazon and some other places.