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Downloading Nancy

Downloading Nancy

Director: Johan Renck, Maria Bello, Jason Patric, Rufus Sewell

Cast: Johan Renck, Maria Bello, Jason Patric, Rufus Sewell

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


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. Also featuring Amy Brenneman as Nancy's analyst, Downloading Nancy was the first English-language feature from Swedish filmmaker Johan Renck.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
Nancy only smiles when she's dreaming about death, and even then the anguish in her eyes is unmistakable. Downloading Nancy is nothing if not confrontational, yet despite our instincts to recoil in disgust from the subject matter, it's the raw emotions in Lee Ross and Pamela Cuming's smartly structured screenplay, and an absolutely fearless performance by Maria Bello, that keep us riveted to the screen as the film's tormented protagonist makes one last desperate attempt at freeing herself from the soul-stifling prison of her own mind. The first time we hear Nancy speak, she claims that death feels like "sucking pure oxygen," and that life feels like "being trapped in the wrong house and looking for a way out." Immediately thereafter, we see her for the very first time, furtively lighting a cigarette on a bus ride to oblivion. Nancy has just left home, and the only clue to her whereabouts is a note to her husband, Albert (Rufus Sewell), claiming that she is visiting friends in Baltimore. The truth is that Nancy has chosen to embrace death, but she's already dead -- at least on the inside. Sexually abused by her uncle as a young girl, she has come to associate pain with love, and only feels alive when she's slicing her arms and legs with razor blades. To Nancy, death isn't something to fear, but a liberating force to be warmly embraced -- it's the one state of being that is powerful enough to end her agony. A reclusive Internet addict, she has finally found a man who is willing to free her from her body. His name is Louis (Jason Patric), and he's a mysterious loner addicted to violent sex. Meanwhile, as his wife ventures out toward the abyss, uncaring Albert can't even be bothered to file a missing persons police report after three days go by without so much as a telephone call from Nancy. When Louis arrives on his doorstep claiming to be a computer repairman, the truth about Nancy's dark journey finally begins to emerge. Selling a movie about a sexually abused woman who seeks her own death at the hands of a violent sex addict is no easy task, though Downloading Nancy covers this undeniably disturbing subject matter with exceptional style and commendable restraint. From the hypnotic opening shot of Albert driving through a car wash as Nancy discusses death with her therapist, it's obvious that this isn't going to be a conventional narrative, and it's precisely that approach that makes us want to find out how this deeply unsettling sequence of events will play out. By toying with the timeline of events, Cuming and Ross tell us everything we need to know about Nancy, Albert, and Louis in order to understand precisely how they arrived at this point in their lives. We know what Nancy wants, and we suspect that Louis is capable of giving it to her, though we're never quite certain where the story will take us next. Who is more of a monster anyway -- the husband who neglects the wife who has been silently suffering and self-mutilating right before his eyes for the past 15 years, or the taciturn deviant who actually takes the time to try and understand that suffering, despite his intentions to eventually kill her? Downloading Nancy doesn't offer any concrete answers to this troubling question, though by turning the mirror back on Albert before we even know Nancy's ultimate fate, it forces us to consider the profound pain caused by neglect, be it passive or intentional. Watching Nancy lay her soul bare to Louis, we're faced with the sad reality that, with a little understanding, perhaps she may have been able to overcome her tragic past. As Nancy, Bello personifies pain; she embraces her long-suffering character's deep-rooted distress with open arms, delivering the kind of performance that will linger with the viewer for days to follow. Nancy's gaze isn't wounded, it's absolutely destroyed, and Bello's eyes convey that emotional devastation with transcendent conviction. It may well be the defining performance of her entire career, and her quiet intensity is only strengthened by her pairing with the underappreciated Patric, whose emotionally complex portrayal of the enigmatic Louis prevents the audience from ever coloring his character as the hero or the villain of the story. And despite the fact that Sewell awkwardly fumbles his accent in one pivotal scene, his performance as the emotional black hole at the center of this grim tale is absolutely chilling. A dedicated golf fanatic, Albert has channeled all of his energy into creating a revolutionary computerized swing analyzer in his den -- a faux-wood shrine to suburban mediocrity -- but at what price? It's unusual that a film set primarily in an unadorned suburban home, a psychiatrist's office, and various cheap hotel rooms could have any real visual or stylistic impact, but when those locales are being shot by famed cinematographer Christopher Doyle, they create a kind of magnificent insipidness that projects Nancy's inner emptiness on the screen for all to see. Combined with first-time feature filmmaker Johan Renck's stark direction and Krister Linder's warped, seductively dissonant score, Doyle's striking visuals create a world that seems to be haunted by the living, rather than the dead. And while not every movie lover will be eager to pay the emotional toll required to visit this cold, lonely place, those compelled to take the journey are rewarded with a complex meditation on the devastating role that abuse and neglect can play in hastening the downward spiral of the desperate and damaged.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Strand Home Video
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Original theatrical trailer; Other strand releasing trailers

Cast & Crew

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

Technical Credits
Johan Renck Director
Julie Aaron Executive Producer
Adam Batz Executive Producer
P.H. Clinkscales Executive Producer
Pamela Cuming Screenwriter
Christopher Doyle Cinematographer
Jason Essex Producer
Lauri Faggioni Production Designer
Dawn Fanning Co-producer
Blizzard Fils Executive Producer
Chris Hanley Executive Producer
Henrik Hanson Editor
Venus Kanani Casting
Igor Kovacevich Producer
Lee Ross Screenwriter
Krister Linder Score Composer
Sara McCudden Art Director
Sean McVity Executive Producer
David Moore Producer
Cara Morrissey Associate Producer
Mark Mueller Executive Producer
John O'Rourke Asst. Director
Stephen Onda Executive Producer
Denise Ostholm Costumes/Costume Designer
Cole Payne Producer
Daniel Sachs Executive Producer
Johan Söderberg Editor
Warren St. Onge Sound/Sound Designer
Mary Vernieu Casting
Nadia Williamson Costumes/Costume Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Downloading Nancy
1. Gone [8:02]
2. Pitch and Putt [8:22]
3. Like a Smoke [13:23]
4. Real Me - Real You [7:03]
5. Firewall Expired [10:07]
6. Released [9:44]
7. End of Everything [:02]
8. Real Pain [9:43]
9. Load of Crap [7:20]
10. Last Time [8:07]
11. Holding up [9:56]
12. Credits [4:41]


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