All About Nina

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
All About Nina Movie Poster Image
Very dark, brutal drama about how a wounded woman copes.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 97 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Addresses the timely, loaded topic of women speaking out about sexual assault: It takes an extraordinary amount of bravery to speak about assault and get it out, rather than keeping it inside -- but when women do, there are often serious consequences and stigmas that last forever. Why is this so? How can we change it?

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Nina eventually tries to better herself, it's done in a reckless way, with lots of drinking involved. She spends most of the movie in a self-destructive pattern that stems from a childhood trauma. Nevertheless, in the movie's final act, she shows a lot of courage. Rafe is a good example of an understanding, sympathetic man.

Violence

An abusive man slaps a woman; she hits him back. Graphic discussion of rape and sexual abuse. Punching. Tantrum-throwing.

Sex

Main character sleeps with several different men. Main character shown topless in several scenes. Man performs oral sex on woman. Sex from behind. Very strong, frequent sex talk, banter, innuendo ("jerking off," etc.). Kissing.

Language

Constant language, with uses of "f--k," "bulls--t," "s--t," "p---y," "c--t," "bitch," "vagina," "d--k," "damn," "c-m," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). Middle-finger gestures.

Consumerism

Reference to Uber.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character drinks a lot, often to excess, with vomiting. Frequent cigarette smoking. Brief drug use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that All About Nina is a drama about a talented female comedian who's a sexual abuse survivor trying to correct her path of self-destruction. It's rough, but it gets by on its honesty and on a great performance from Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Nonetheless, the material is very mature. A woman sleeps with many different men and is shown topless; there's also some pretty explicit sex and very graphic sex-related talk, as well as frank discussion about sexual abuse and rape. An abusive man angrily slaps a woman; she slaps him back. Language is extremely strong, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," "p---y," and more. The main character is a hard drinker who's frequently drunk, vomiting, or passed out. Cigarette smoking and drug use are also shown.

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What's the story?

In ALL ABOUT NINA, stand-up comic Nina Geld (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a promising career on stage, and her sexually frank act frequently attracts male admirers. But her self-destructive, hard-drinking attitude never allows her to hang on to a relationship. Looking to get away from her doomed affair with a violent, married cop, Nina goes to Los Angeles and stays with the free-spirited Lake (Kate del Castillo) while auditioning for a TV show called Comedy Prime. Meanwhile, she meets Rafe (Common), an uncommonly trustworthy and emotional man who wants more than just a physical relationship. While dealing with all this new stress in her life, Nina takes the stage and suddenly finds herself confessing a dark, long-held secret that could change everything.

Is it any good?

Eva Vives' extremely dark, brutal drama is made lighter by Winstead's aching, acidly funny performance -- as well as by the difficult hope that honesty and sympathy can eventually win the day. All About Nina may deal with the business of comedy, and a good deal of it is funny. But the actual weight of it lies in real-world pain and the idea that all of Nina's neuroses (her caustic comedy, her penchant for meaningless sex, and her hard drinking) come from one source.

Writer/director Vives, who co-wrote Raising Victor Vargas and makes her feature directing debut here, can't keep all of this flowing smoothly. It's a bumpy ride, transitioned from the comedy stage to real-life by Nina's compulsive vomiting after every set. The collection of supporting characters, from Common and del Castillo to Clea DuVall, Jay Mohr, Camryn Manheim, and a blink-and-you'll-miss-her Melonie Diaz, never really break past two dimensions, though Beau Bridges as the Lorne Michaels-like "Larry Michaels" has one of the movie's most powerful moments. Nevertheless, the movie's scorching devotion to truth and Winstead's amazing conviction make this one a winner.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how All About Nina depicts sex. How does Nina view sex? How does Rafe? What values does the movie impart around sex overall? How do they compare with your own?

  • How does the movie deal with violence, sexual assault, and rape? Are there consequences?

  • How are drinking, smoking, and drug use depicted? Are they glamorized? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • What happens after Nina reveals her history of being sexually assaulted? Does she find sympathy? Are there downsides? Why?

Movie details

For kids who love edgy stories

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