Downloading Nancy Delves into Schizoid Realm of S/M


‘Life is like being trapped in the wrong house, looking for a way out,” says Nancy (an excruciatingly believable Maria Bello) in this film’s first moments. A stranger she’s met in an s/m chat room, named Louis “Deep Pain” Farley (Jason Patric), has promised Nancy the torture-‘n’-sex release she yearns for, so off she goes to her fate, leaving her clueless husband of 15 years (Rufus Sewell) a note saying that she’s staying with friends, and abandoning viewers to the brutal, agonizing transactions between the film’s three main characters. Nancy’s overriding resolve dominates this story: Nothing will get in the way of her dream death—neither the love she and Louis come to share, nor his attempts to abandon their arrangement. Downloading is a triumph for the actors, particularly Bello, and the harsh lighting, handheld camera, and schizoid electronic soundtrack sink us further into a sense of vertigo and despair. But the jump cuts and nonlinear narrative are gratuitously stylish, and when you peel away this film’s complex performances, at the core of its drawn-out suicide spectacle is pain so extreme, so alienating, and, in the end, so pointless.