When Real-life Drama Meets the Absurd

I wanted to watch Downloading Nancy when I first saw the trailer in 2009: it was during a time when I regarded all dark and depressing movies as good movies (in the same vein as art movies, haha). It’s hard to tell what makes a depressing movie good: does it strike the right emotional chords? Is there retribution at the end?. But in the case of this drama/thriller, you can tell there’s got to be something wrong when you start to snicker a little. Yes, somehow director Johan Renck managed to turn something as serious as emotional disturbance into something groan-worthy. Nancy (played by Maria Bello) is an abused and depressed wife who seeks solace in an online acquaintance. Later on we find out that their relationship is hinged on her request to be killed by him because she’s too weak a character to simply kill herself. Now this is where it starts to get freaky as Nancy begs her new friend, the sick sadomasochist Louis to release her from her painful life after they meet each other and have kinky sex. He then starts to fall in love with Nancy after spending few light moments with her and persuades her to stay alive.

I put this movie in my to-watch list in 2009. Almost 3 years later I now realize that just because a movie is “the most disturbing film I’ve ever seen” and “not for the faint at heart” does not mean it has redemptive value. It’s as if this movie was made for the sake of being twisted, with the added lure that it was based on true events. The entire cast, especially the main character, are unsympathetic. The therapist was stupid, Nancy was stupid, the husband was stupid, and I really couldn’t care less if they all killed each other. The only true disturbing aspect of this movie is how shocked its audience supposed to be, given that it’s an ugly story that should’ve been told in all its ugliness.

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