“Nancy,” a psychodrama about a woman with a tenuous grip on the line separating fact from fiction, seems to speak to our “fake news” era. The film premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 20 and features Andrea Riseborough as the title character, a 35-year-old woman who spins elaborate hoaxes on the internet.
“Reality caught up with my fiction,” said Christina Choe, the film’s writer and director. The film was in production when Donald Trump was inaugurated and the script was written long before his election, but Choe sees parallels between the president’s fib-telling and her central character’s penchant for stretching the truth.
“It’s become a timely topic because of our lovely president, the liar-in-chief,” she said. “It’s a strange time as a society when the nature of truth is under attack.”
“Nancy”s’ plot kicks into gear when the title character becomes convinced she was kidnapped as a child and goes off in search of her parents, putting her in touch with a couple whose daughter went missing three decades ago. It’s a meaty role for Riseborough, who will be very busy at Sundance, where she is appearing in four films (the other three being “Death of Stalin,” “Mandy,” and “Burden”).
“I wanted to create this female anti-hero character who is morally ambiguous, but compelling,” Choe said. “She’s kind of my answer to the Travis Bickles and Walter Whites of the world — the parts that always seem to go to men.”
Choe’s work has mostly been in the short film world. She won the grand jury prize for best short film at the Slamdance Film Festival for “I Am John Wayne” in 2012. “Nancy” isn’t the only work of Choe’s to deal with the issue of reality. She’s also making a documentary about a trip to North Korea, the so-called “hermit kingdom,” where a totalitarian regime has cut its citizens off from the world.
“What’s true and authentic is becoming the theme of my work,” Choe said. “I’m spending a lot of time navigating between truth and lies.”
“Nancy” will be looking for distribution at Sundance. The cast includes Steve Buscemi, Ann Dowd, J. Smith-Cameron, and John Leguizamo.