Review: 'The Nowhere Inn' a Dry, Deadpan Mockumentary

by Karin McKie

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday September 17, 2021

St. Vincent as herself in 'The Nowhere Inn'
St. Vincent as herself in 'The Nowhere Inn'  (Source:IFC Films)

Carrie Brownstein brings her quirky, sweet "Portlandia" TV series sensibilities to the new mockumentary "The Nowhere Inn," opening September 17 in theaters and on demand.

Brownstein (CB) plays the documentarian character. Her real-life bestie Annie Clark, a.k.a. Grammy-winning performer St. Vincent (SV), plays the rock star, plus co-produced and co-wrote the 90-minute film, which skewers celebrity, pop culture, documentaries, and themselves. Bill Benz, a first-time filmmaker, directs; he also worked on "Portlandia," as well as on "At Home with Amy Sedaris."

The dry, deadpan adventure incorporates great concert footage — St. Vincent looks fab in latex stage gear, and egalitarian as her quartet lines up in a row with her standing stage right, rather than grandstanding at the front of the stage — with the twosome showing the behind-the-scenes, how-the-sausage-is-made process for a documentary. They interject that everybody wears a mask (and not just during a pandemic).

The dialog is peppered with astute meta observations, like "an artist's best skill is knowing who to collaborate with," "what you do on stage is hard to do off stage," and that a stage persona is a "bigger" version of the real person, with SV adding that "all of it is me, and none of it is me."

St. Vincent self-skewers.

St. Vincent adds that artists and writers should indeed be out of step from others, and should "thrash around," too.

The pair quibble about how the Dallas-raised pop star (who picked her stage name from the hospital where Dylan Thomas died) should be portrayed, with SV preferring to "only document things I can control." Dakota Fanning pops in as SV's kinky girlfriend.

CB is currently touring with her band Sleater-Kinney, and is reportedly writing a biopic about the band Heart. SV's "Daddy's Home" tour (a reference to her father's recent release from a 12-year prison sentence for financial crimes) continues through October in the U.S., and heads to Europe starting next June.


"The Nowhere Inn" opens September 17 in theaters and on demand.

Karin McKie is a writer, educator and activist at KarinMcKie.com