This is a fascinating meta documentary that's at times humorous and provocative, an exploration of how artists protect the difference between their performative and private identities. St. Vincent is a riveting performer; she's luminous and expressive. Her concert self is fierce, colorful, and commanding, and offstage she's surprisingly sweet and kind as "just" Annie -- until she realizes that perhaps even Carrie thinks she's too nice and boring to make a documentary interesting. Then all bets are off, and Annie transforms into a self-absorbed diva who revels in managing how she comes across. Brownstein, meanwhile, is amusing as always with her nervous and exasperated energy that morphs into confusion, anger, and resignation.
This collaborative film will force audiences to wonder what's real and what's made up, which facts are manufactured and which are verifiable. Each artist brings authentic-seeming "issues" with their careers and fame to the film, but there are obviously layers of fiction painted over even realistic conversations about touring, TV work, and more. The scene with Annie's fake family is particularly effective, because even a cursory amount of research confirms that she does have a lot of siblings and hails from Texas. Of course, the movie's singing, shooting family isn't really her own -- but they're an example of how St. Vincent wants to project (and protect) her image. Dakota Johnson is hilarious playing herself, but as Annie's girlfriend. And the music is great, even though The Nowhere Inn isn't strictly speaking a concert documentary. Bottom line? This bizarre but entertaining film is worth seeing precisely for all its strangeness.