Christina Choe’s drama Nancy ends just as its third act is beginning, but how the characters react to their situation is less important than how the situation is resolved on a story level. Nancy (Andrea Riseborough) is a deeply depressed, 35-year-old temp who lives alone with her infirm and often-intolerable mother Betty (Ann Dowd). To offset the grimness of her real life, the screen-addicted Nancy catfishes people online, including grieving father Jeb (John Leguizamo). After Betty dies, Nancy learns of married couple Ellen (J. Smith-Cameron) and Leo (Steve Buscemi), whose 5-year-old daughter Brooke had been kidnapped 30 years earlier.
After noticing that a computer projection of what Brooke might look like at 35 bears a passing resemblance to her, Nancy tracks down Ellen and Leo and ingratiates herself into their lives. Ellen wants to believe that Nancy is her long-lost daughter, but Leo is considerably more skeptical, and the results of DNA tests prove less important than their emotions. Of course, no matter how gritty and character-based a drama, there’s always something that signals that it’s all make-believe. In Nancy, it’s not even the fact that the phone numbers begin with 555, or that Ellen and Leo kept Brooke’s bedroom unchanged for three decades; it’s a mother enthusiastically reading her daughter’s writing. RIP, suspension of disbelief.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.