Parents' Guide to

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Language, sincere artistry in charming yet meandering docu.

Movie NR 2020 89 minutes
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As a riches-to-rags-to-riches story of an artist who suffers slings and arrows from the music industry yet finds a way to survive, this documentary is meandering yet fitfully charming. Nash's 2007 hit song "Foundations" made her a teenage pop star, but -- as a UK DJ wisely notes -- it's one thing to be a hot new artist and entirely different to expand that flush of interest into an enduring career. As Underestimate the Girl illustrates, Nash wasn't careful with her hit-record money (and the movie implies that the pile was rather impressive -- at least, compared to the small returns musicians earn for putting out records in the era of free streaming), and we watch her flounder while she tries to find her second act.

Nash is a bundle of raw energy who's fascinating to watch; good thing, since what we're given to know of her life is a bit blah. She hemorrhages money on an ill-advised tour, is betrayed by a manager who steals a considerable amount of money (we're never told how much), and moves from London to Los Angeles and back again seeking work acting and songwriting. We meet her dog and her mom and see Nash on two occasions look right down the camera's barrel and admit that she's going to have to figure something out, because at this point she just plain needs money. Of course, viewers who mainly know Nash from her role on Netflix's GLOW will be aware that Underestimate the Girl's star is going to have a reasonably happy ending. It's easy to be glad for Nash after watching her struggle for so long, but it's also a tad underwhelming. Underestimate the Girl sets itself up to be an account of all the wrongs Nash has suffered in a toxic world that doesn't appreciate artists; instead, it winds up as a look at a performer who must labor endlessly to hang on to the fringes of the entertainment industry. It's a worthy account even so -- and, for young artists, a compelling cautionary tale, even if its makers didn't intend it as such.

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