Nerve – Sebastien Guy at the very start of something. (Sydney Film Festival Film Review)

Nerve is currently showing at the Sydney Film Festival. You can grab your tickets here.

Nerve was filmed in fourteen days, which is quite remarkable given it’s real problem is pacing and script. It’s a rather beautiful film, but the writing kills it which means it’s unlikely to find any sort of mainstream release. It’s a shame because Sebastien Guy has talent.  But I can’t quite figure out what he saw in this script. (oh!  I just read he wrote it himself – which solves that mystery)

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Jakob (Christian Clark) is a man obsessed with searching for his wife’s lover who may or may not have been involved with her death. Jakob is (understandably) traumatized at finding out his wife had a lover once she died and he develops an unhealthy obsession with finding the man who was her lover, telling himself it will mean closure – something that is understandable and understandably dangerous at the same time.

The great precedence and overwhelming influence is obviously Christopher Nolan and Memento (Christopher Nolan also started out in advertising) to the script Guy unfortunately wrote himself with co-writer Sarah Smith. While the film and its images are lovely, the script lacks any sort of depth that might carry us through. It’s the plain and simple story of Jakob, with one twist and one twist only. Exactly what it takes to make a great ninety second advertisement.

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Jakob can’t bear to live in the house he shared with his now dead wife, so he takes a rental sharing with a woman named Grace (!) Georgina Haig, who is a drug addicted prostitute with a good heart. Jakob starts fixing her broken things around the apartment, she tells him to butt out, however they are inexplicably drawn to each other through mutual suffering. Not a bad start, even if the next door neighbor immigrant is a bit of a ring in.

However the film falls down when Jakob strikes at remarkably loose ends in order take revenge on his wife’s lover. Grace’s involvement become comical because the premise is so ludicrous. The wife’s lover is eventually tied to a chair and semi-tortured, but he is a person who has appeared out of no where. If we had his story, more of Grace’s and more of Gary Sweet’s (who competently plays Jakob’s father in law) back story, we would have gotten more involved, and there might have been something strong to hang the only plot twist on as well as the really rather fine direction. However Guy has taken too many short cuts and expects the audience to make up for too much. It’s a real shame because the acting and the direction and especially the cinematography are strong.  It’s the script that is a tragedy here; a one trick pony that has had its day.

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I want to add that the shots of Sydney are lovely. I’m a Sydney girl and I see Sydney in far too few films.  It was great to see Sydney lovingly caressed and the city looks great under Guy’s TLC.

I guess the bottom line is Guy won’t get great feedback for this venture, but I hope he keeps making films.  There was a lot I liked about Nerve, even if ultimately the film didn’t work.

imag8esNerve is currently showing at the Sydney Film Festival. You can grab your tickets here.

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