When a film makes you sympathize with the woman who punches the protagonist in the face, it might not be the best sign. Unfortunately, director Andrew Semans’s debut, “Nancy, Please,” does just that. The film follows Ph.D. student Paul (Will Rogers), who, after moving in with his girlfriend Jen (Rebecca Lawrence), discovers that he has left the subject of his dissertation, an annotated copy of Charles Dickens’s “Little Dorrit,” at his old house. However, when he tries to get it back, his old roommate Nancy (Eleonore Hendricks) stops him, instead choosing to unleash havoc upon his life—or so she intends. Ultimately, Paul comes across as a whiny, self-involved college kid with “whiteboyproblems” stamped across his forehead.
The film’s biggest issue is that it makes Paul completely unlikeable. We’re supposed to sympathize with him, but it’s hard to feel bad for someone on a scholarship program to graduate school who sits around all day—he can’t work without that single copy, apparently—and complains about his ex-roommate to his best friend and his girlfriend. When Jen finally confronts him about his apathy, her side of the argument—that she can’t keep supporting him while he mopes around without putting in any more effort than a few phone calls—is far more understandable.
Moreover, Nancy is given absolutely no characterization beyond hysterical psychopath. We don’t know why she refuses to return his book, or why she seems hell-bent on thwarting his every effort to reclaim it. At one point, Paul uses his old key to enter her house in the middle of the night to get it back, and Nancy, mistaking him for a burglar, attacks him with a baseball bat. The film paints this incident as an act of malice, but it seems like a completely logical reaction to the circumstances. When they have a final confrontation and Paul yells at her for “ruining his life,” it’s far more tempting to cheer when Nancy punches him and tell him to grow a pair and stop whining.
The film is well shot, and both Rogers and Hendricks play their poorly-written characters as best they can. However, the film still manages to simultaneously bore and infuriate, and though the evil ex-roommate plot has plenty of potential, almost all of it is wasted.