Family is not necessarily who shares your DNA, but who fills the gaps in your heart.

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.

Not rated. 
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.

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