Nina Forever Movie Review
Written by Hamzah Sarwar
Released by Studiocanal
Written and directed by Ben Blaine and Chris Blaine
2015, 98 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 22nd February 2016
Fiona O'Shaughnessy as Nina
Abigail Hardingham as Holly
Cian Barry as Rob
David Troughton as Dan
Elizabeth Elvin as Sally
Nina Forever is a profoundly weird oddity that plunders the boundaries of sanity. It's an unhinged bout of Brit madness from the Blaine Brothers that avoids all means of categorisation. A bizarrely morbid romantic comedy that meditates on grief and the aftermath of coping with the loss of a loved one. Thematically perverse, the film is engulfed in an overbearing web of kitschy weirdness. There’s an anti-erotic vibe in the myriad sexual encounters that make for an agonising yet unsettling experience. Needless to say, the Blaines have whipped up a unique splash of originality that is hard to come by in the age of the remake.
Awkward and introverted trainee paramedic/shelf stacker, Holly, has fallen for grieving colleague, Rob. Devastated and suicidal after the sudden passing of his girlfriend (Nina), he is drawn into an impromptu relationship with Holly. Inevitably ending up in bed, the pair are interrupted by the mangled, bloody form of a cursing Nina. Sex triggers the reappearance of the sarcastic effigy from a past life, serving as a reminder of the enduring nature of love and inflicting mockery on a new beginning. It’s a love triangle from hell that pushes Rob to breaking point and tests the resolve of his new girlfriend. Gone but not forgotten? It’s a strikingly original metaphor that strangely reverberates with Holly’s bold proclamation ‘I’d love it if my boyfriend tried to kill himself if I died’. Abigail Hardingham is fantastic as the wildly confused partner competing with love from beyond the grave.
Rob’s ongoing relations with Nina’s parents make for the most awkward segments of the film. These episodes offer welcome relief from the torturously repetitive sex scenes. The bereavement creates a comforting bond between Rob and Nina’s mother. A support network to ease the pain clearly morphs into something far greater: a sacrosanct pact to never betray Nina’s legacy. The vulnerable turn from Elizabeth Elvin adds to the cringeworthy moment of an implied sexual connection with her fallen daughter’s ex-boyfriend.
For all its originality in wrestling with such thorny subject matter and deeply disturbing imagery (having sex on the grave of your ex-girlfriend springs to mind); Nina Forever left me feeling cold and often repulsed. It’s a trailblazing and grotesque sexual expedition that neither frightened nor evoked laughter. While the offbeat tonality is brimming with wry wit, it often gets submerged beneath the bloody action between the sheets. It’s certainly one of the most unique features in recent memory and for that reason alone, one worth seeking out.