St. Vincent Checks in to “The Nowhere Inn” (Review)

The evolution of Annie Clark as a musician has been pretty incredible to watch over the years. From the quieter introspection of her 2007 debut album “Marry Me” to the full-on glam rock persona she has taken on more recently, she has become an award-winning artist recording as St. Vincent.

Despite the acclaim and a rabid fan base, she isn’t exactly a household name. That’s where the fun begins in “The Nowhere Inn,” a film that begins with Clark in the back of a limousine. The driver rolls down the window to make sure she knows that he’s never heard of her and then calls his son and puts him on speakerphone to make sure it’s clear that they don’t really believe she’s famous because they’ve never heard of her.

Director Bill Benz (“Portlandia”) helps bring this wild mockumentary to life wherein an alternate reality version of Annie Clark and her best friend Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney set out to make a documentary about life on the road for St. Vincent’s “Masseduction” tour.

For Carrie, the documentary seems like a good way to spend time with her best friend and raise her own profile beyond being a musician and actor. Things go south pretty quickly when it turns out that the tour is just too…boring. Annie and her band don’t party or go wild, they stop at farmers markets to stock up on veggies to eat on the bus and Annie spends a lot of time playing on a Nintendo Switch to pass the time. Not exactly legendary antics for Carrie’s directorial debut.

It’s clear that each woman is having a blast playing up heightened versions of their own public personas for the film and there are moments that you just know are rooted in real-life situations but heightened for comedic effect.

In one of my favorite gags, Carrie thinks it will be a great scene for the film to bring a random fan backstage and film the interaction. But, as this superfan reveals an incredibly emotional story about how Annie’s music has impacted her life, it brings on uncontrollable tears moments before the show and a situation where Annie has to herself be comforted by the fan instead.

As the tour rolls on, the previously close friendship between Annie and Carrie is threatened by their disagreements on how the whole thing should be captured and Annie’s further deep dive into the character of who St. Vincent is starts to blur.

It’s very possible that all of this “wink wink nudge nudge” comedy won’t play well beyond those who are already fans of both women, but I do think that you could have never heard a note of St. Vincent’s music and still revel in the absurdity of tour life and the perils of being incredibly famous, but only to a very specific group of people.

The movie, as bizarre as it can get, delivers some kick-ass concert footage and boasts a hysterical cameo from Dakota Johnson. It’s hard for me to imagine St. Vincent fans not enjoying the hell out of this, I know I did.

The Nowhere Inn” opens in select theaters and will also be available nationwide as a VOD rental this Friday.

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