St. Vincent Reveals the Adorably Dorky Side of Annie Clark in Behind-the-Scenes Movie ‘The Nowhere Inn’
The Nowhere Inn is a behind the scenes film about art rock star St. Vincent, but it is not a documentary. Annie Clark wrote and produced the film with Carrie Brownstein and Bill Benz directed it. The film is their idea and it plays with reality as it explores celebrity and identity, and it is wonderful.
Clark performs as St. Vincent. In The Nowhere Inn, the screen version of Clark struggles with who she is in real life. Fans of St. Vincent will get a kick out of Clark’s sweet and naive contrast to her stage persona, and even if you’ve never heard of St. Vincent, she is so endearing that The Nowhere Inn is a joy for all.
Annie Clark IS St. Vincent
On stage, St. Vincent is an aggressive, sensual rock star. Behind the scenes, Annie Clark is just a girl trying to make people happy. She asks Brownstein to make a documentary about her to show people the real Clark. Clark has also appeared on Brownstein’s show Portlandia in real life.
The Nowhere Inn mixes 16mm documentary footage with high definition widescreen footage of Brownstein trying to make Clark’s documentary. Realities begin to blur as does Clark’s personality. The film becomes a Lynchian head trip and it’s all compelling, whether it makes sense or not.
Annie Clark as the people pleaser
The Annie Clark you meet in The Nowhere Inn is just lovely. She’s happy, engaging and playful even when others are rude. When strangers say they don’t know who she is, she tries to explain St. Vincent to them when she could really just go on about her day. She humors demanding people asking her for invasive favors, and it’s never enough for them. They still criticize Clark behind her back.
Clark seems to relish playing the total opposite of her St. Vincent Persona. She’s even adorable doing her daily exercises. The premise is that Clark is too boring for a documentary, and what does that say? Just being a friendly person playing St. Vincent on stage isn’t enough? She’s actually not too boring though. She’s awkwardly uncomfortable and endlessly sympathetic.
The extreme St. Vincent is still a joke
When Clark tries to play her own brooding persona, she’s still adorable. Feeding the “edgy” cliche of an extreme rockstar, Clark is still playing the innocent version. She concocts a sexual relationship that feels like a naive idea of what would turn her fans on.
Clark gets becomes really controlling and dark, then concocts an absurd image of her family. The extremes between contrived intensity and forced relatability are hilarious.
Fans of St. Vincent’s music will like The Nowhere Inn just as a vehicle for Clark, even if they aren’t into the avant-garde film. She sings the title song “Nowhere Inn,” and you also get to hear Clark sing a capella and play acoustic guitar.
David Lynch and Charlie Kaufman must be guests at ‘The Nowhere Inn’
The Nowhere Inn gets bizarre and abstract. It’s art, man. The image distorts at times to heighten Clark’s surreal fakery, but then it gets real and personal again. When she hurts her friends, it’s sincere. It can be dreamlike at times with images of St. Vincent bleeding into Clark’s life and thoughts.
There have been other films that play with the levels of reality in a cinematic narrative. Synechdoche, New York had a playwright’s life feed his play and vice versa in an endless feedback loop. Being John Malkovich had the title actor enter a portal into his own head. Adaptation had the screenwriter become a character and create a fictional twin brother too.
Those are all Charlie Kaufman. The Lynch influence comes in when Nowhere Inn takes flights of fancy that can’t be so easily related to the characters or filmmakers. Another documentary parallel could be I’m Still Here in which Joaquin Phoenix played himself in a year-long ruse to the public.
Those are only vague guideposts to help convey what The Nowhere Inn is. Clark and Brownstein took the idea of art imitates life imitates art and put their own individual stamps on it. It’s fascinating to see these artists explore those themes, and they keep it entertaining no matter how weird they get.