(**SPOILERS**) A bit of background here: Alice Clark is a real actress and musician, whose stage name is St. Vincent. Carrie Brownstein is a writer and actress. This film, co-written by them, is semi-autobiographical. I will refer to the internal documentary that is being made as "the documentary" and the film itself as THE NOWHERE INN.
THE NOWHERE INN begins with a chaotic rock song, which is somewhat indicative of the film. In fact, all the songs in this concert mockumentary have nonsensical lyrics. The main character, singer Annie Clark/St. Vincent (played by Annie Clark) asks a friend (Carrie Brownstein, played by Carrie Brownstein) to write and direct a documentary about her for her fans. But while the stage persona of St. Vincent is dynamic and exciting, the reality of Annie Clark is boring. THE NOWHERE INN shows a parade of miscalculations, mistakes, and personal conflicts along the tour, like a low-key THIS IS SPINAL TAP. The problem, Brownstein says, is that Annie/St.Vincent is "nerdy and normal in real life." THE NOWHERE INN examines the difference between on- and off-stage personae; the documentary's director wants the off-screen world to be more interesting, but things go awry, and things get even more uncomfortable when two of the women go for salacious images. Annie keeps trying to control and then stage the documentary, complete with planned break-up with girlfriend, and a fake family and back story, and not just for herself. Annie doesn't want grit and dirt (and jail), she wants a different kind of film and imagines herself in a sophisticated party scene instead. Meanwhile, the director of the documentary is always reaching for an inappropriate tone or an inappropriate color. Annie and Carrie have profound differences in their interpretation of film and eventually it tears their relationship apart.
There are certainly some striking images in THE NOWHERE INN. There are the inappropriate color choices mentioned above. In one scene, we see only the back of someone's head and straight black hair, even as she turns around, like a image from a Japanese horror movie. There are aspects of this reminiscent of SYNECDOCHE and of THE TRUMAN SHOW. As noted, this is semi-autobiographical; it is also somewhat self-referential. (For what it's worth, it also seems to fail a reverse Bechdel test--there do not seem to be any conversations between two named male characters.)
Released theatrically 09/17/21; available on Apple TV+. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4), or 5/10.
Film Credits: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10441822/reference
What others are saying: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10441822/reference
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2021 Mark R. Leeper