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St. Vincent, Carrie Brownstein

“THE NOWHERE INN”  My rating: C+ (VOD)

91 minutes | No MPAA rating

Movies don’t get much more meta than “The Nowhere Inn,” a life-imitates-art-imitates-life head scratcher from the dynamic duo of St. Vincent and Carrie Brownstein.

Basically this is a fictional film about the making of a documentary. Separating fact from fiction gets pretty sticky.

St. Vincent (real name: Annie Clark) is, of course, the pop star/avant garde performance artist who has collaborated with David Byrne and others. Here St. Vincent portrays herself as an artist on tour; her real-life friend Brownstein (also playing herself) signs on to make a documentary movie about the musician.

This setup — two friends making a documentary that will severely test their friendship — offers plenty of opportunities to comment on the madness of stardom, the artistic ego, and the pitfalls of mixing business with personal intimacy.

Initially St. Vincent is thrilled to have her old pal constantly at her elbow; Brownstein hopes the film they are making will provide validation with her ailing father (given her multi-hyphenate job description — actor/writer/director/musician/ comic — validation would seem the last thing she needs).

Dakota Johnson, St. Vincent

But things go wrong.  Turns out that St. Vincent is terminally boring — unceasingly pleasant, inoffensive, sweet-tempered.  So much so that Brownstein pushes her to act out a bit for the sake of the doc.

Careful what you wish for. St. Vincent goes off the deep end. At one point she invites Brownstein and her camera into the bedroom to record a carnal encounter with the singer’s new girlfriend (Dakota Johnson).  

“The Nowhere Inn” is a cool idea that, alas, quickly runs out of steam. Its tongue-in-cheek deadpan sardonicism is good for a couple of chuckles, then settles into a dulling sameness.

Thankfully director Bill Benz recorded several performances on one of St. Vincent’s recent tours, and the dynamism of those moments goes a long way toward redeeming the rest of the film.

| Robert W. Butler

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