ROLE:  Stan

GENRE:  Mystery drama


PREMIERED: January 21, 2008 (Sundance)


A self-destructive housewife takes what may be her final step into the abyss in this independent psychological drama. Nancy Stockwell (Maria Bello) is a woman edging into her forties who has fallen into a deep and prolonged state of depression, finding her only solace in self-inflicted pain. Nancy has grown weary of her relationship with her husband, Albert (Rufus Sewell), and one day he comes home from work to find a note in which Nancy says she's decided to visit an old friend for a few days. When Nancy doesn't call after several days, Albert begins to worry that something is wrong, and he soon learns that Nancy hasn't told him the truth. Nancy has struck up an on-line relationship with Louis Farley (Jason Patric), who has a passion for violent sex, and she has decided to meet with him in person, but she has more in mind than just a fling - she believes that Louis is the man who can end her misery by killing her.

Program Details


Maria Bello - Nancy Stockwell
Rufus Sewell - Albert Stockwell
Jason Patric - Louis Farley
Amy Brenneman - Carol
Michael Nyqvist - Stan

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Directed by Johan Renck
Cinematography by Christopher Doyle
Music by Krister Linder

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102 minutes


Production Notes

Filming took place in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in 2007 for 23 days.


Director Johan Renck:

"It's a very dark drama about a very destructive woman. It's a script that was sent to me. I can't even remember how I got it but I liked it instantaneously and we spent six months re-writing it and re-writing it. It is about the fact that in order to be able to love somebody for real, you have to give up a significant part of yourself. You have to take out a chunk of yourself and replace it with a part of another person and in a way you then become a part of that other person and if you're not able to do that, you're not able to love, in a way. This very sad and depressing story is about that and a relationship gone very, very wrong to the extent that the lead character wants to kill herself based on the misery she feels of a wasted life.

Film Commentary
Ella Taylor, NPR:

The film "Downloading Nancy" comes stacked with pedigree talent Maria Bello and Rufus Sewell in front of the camera, legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle behind it. None of it, though, can rescue this repellent piece of work from its preening self-regard.

The end credits coyly announce that the movie, which purports to be about the existential travails of an unhappily married woman who's addicted to pain, was "inspired by true events."

Swedish director Johan Renck along with his equally culpable screenwriters, Pamela Cuming and Lee Ross apparently aspires to a higher order of human storytelling, culled from his vast experience making commercials and music videos.

Ostentatiously frumped out in shapeless cardigans and greasy hair and what is it, may one ask, that attracts otherwise gifted actresses to any old part that will showcase their inner head case? Bello plays Nancy, a troubled woman married for 15 stifling years to her bore of a husband.

Said bore is played by Rufus Sewell, whose performance offers the film's lone source of ironic pleasure; it's an understated departure from his usual sinister persona. Albert is a stodgy obsessive-compulsive who meets adversity by teeing up golf balls on his shag carpet. Accordingly, much golfing ensues when Nancy fails to return home after leaving a note saying she'd be "spending a few days with friends."

It turns out that the poor woman, who was, you know, mistreated in childhood by a bad uncle to the point where she can, you know, no longer feel, has met a similarly tortured kindred spirit named Louis (Jason Patric) via the Web. With his dubious help, she is busily attempting to regain the knack for sensation.

Renck does know how to catch the eye, so if you get your jollies from watching Bello cut herself with a razor, pleasure herself against a computer screen or subject herself to sadomasochistic congress with her new Internet pal, "Downloading Nancy" is the movie for you.

I'd defend such excess to the hilt if it were deployed to some purpose as in David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence", which actually thought out loud, and usefully, about violence in and out of the family. But not this excess. And not this film.

Renck clearly means to turn movie-of-the-week platitudes on their heads, especially the ones about healing: He portrays Nancy's therapist (Amy Brenneman) as a hapless twit spouting feel-good cliches while her client merrily slices up her own thighs in the bathroom.

Dousing his sets in the washed-out colors of drab reality and tracking his zombie protagonists with a hand-held camera more often than not the last refuge of the pointlessly arty Renck traffics in trite indie grunge and the cheap reversals of fashionable despair.

"Downloading Nancy" is peppered with product placement for a soft drink whose makers, with any luck, will suffer severe consumer blowback for getting behind this awful movie. But the most fitting response surely came from the packs of moviegoers at last year's Sundance Film Festival, who upped and left when they could stand no more of this pretentious rubbish.