“Let’s only document what I can control,” says Annie Clark to Carrie Brownstein after some debate over what should be filmed in her documentary. The nature of music documentaries—specifically those when the artist has a say in the production—is always interesting, as artists have to toe the line between being honest and perhaps too exposing and being a complete puff-piece. Clark chooses the former in “The Nowhere Inn,” and takes the documentary down a ridiculous path in the film as she blends her stage persona into who she actually is.
Bill Benz directed “The Nowhere Inn,” which is a mockumentary psychological thriller-comedy. It stars Annie Clark—or St. Vincent—as a fictionalized version of herself as she films a documentary with her best friend Carrie Brownstein (also playing a fictionalized version of herself) attempting to steer the ship as the director of the film. Clark and Brownstein co-wrote the real script, and “The Nowhere Inn” sees their friendship tested as Brownstein attempts to spice things up in the documentary.
Another recent music mockumentary that comes to mind is the BBC “The Office” spinoff, “David Brent: Life on the Road.” Why that film worked is because a.) The Office is already a mockumentary, and b.) David Brent is an established character. If you have ever seen the BBC “The Office” (or the American version for that matter), you come into the spinoff film expecting the misogyny and aloof nature of Brent’s character. For those who are not fans or aware of St. Vincent, I don’t think you have as much to chew on in “The Nowhere Inn.” If you want to watch a story about a girl who is “too boring” and decides to go too far the other way, just watch “The Devil Wears Prada.” Aside from some fun banter between the leads, “The Nowhere Inn” doesn’t do anything unique with the story.
“The Nowhere Inn” is a film that brings some interesting things to the table: it’s fun, and there is some kaleidoscope-like imagery, and mockumentaries are so rare, but the fact that St. Vincent and Carrie Brownstein are playing satirized versions of their real-life selves ends up being the biggest flaw of the film. There wasn’t much suspension of disbelief, and it just felt like it could have just been an SNL sketch idea rather than a feature-length film. There are some cool snippets from performances that could lead you to seeking out St. Vincent’s music.