Winstead and Common will star in Eva Vives’ directorial debut, ‘All About Nina.’
Films like The Big Sick proved not only a refreshing experience of the semi-autobiography but a really good take on stand-up movies. Its powerful impact on audiences is well-documented, and the film has been praised for being blisteringly funny and heart-wrenchingly beautiful. So, I’m certainly hoping this new venture that has landed the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Common will be up to scratch. Deadline reports that Winstead and Common will star in screenwriter Eva Vives’ directorial debut, All About Nina.
The film will follow protagonist Nina Geld (Winstead), who juggles being a rising star in the stand-up comedy scene with an inability to keep her personal life together. Nina takes off to Los Angeles to get rid of a terrible ex and seek out a huge audition. There, she meets Rafe (Common), who challenges her worldview to a rather drastic degree. Supporting roles for All About Nina have also been filled, with Beau Bridges, Kate Del Castillo, Chace Crawford, Clea DuVall, Jay Mohr, Melonie Diaz, Camryn Manheim, Mindy Sterling and Angelique Cabral to feature.
Back in 2002, Vives’ screenplay, Raising Victor Vargas (which was co-written with director Peter Sollett), was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. Critics loved it, pretty much giving it universal acclaim. Praise for Raising Victor Vargas centered on the film’s authenticity. The film’s “restorative” abilities included characters whose “dreams…grace and…struggles are as real as it gets.” So although All About Nina will be Vives’ first directorial effort, her first writing venture was already incredibly promising.
And there’s hardly a need to go super in-depth with both Winstead and Common. Both actors have acted in a wide variety of films and mostly avoided any kind of typecast. Between John Wick: Chapter 2, Suicide Squad and Selma, Common has had a ton on his plate. Winstead has commanded screens in genre films like Final Destination 3 (the best one, in my humble opinion), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Nevertheless, she has also stolen the show in indies such as Smashed and Faults.
But there’s the element of stand-up that neither actor has really tackled before. This would arguably be where a Big Sick comparison would naturally pop up. Unless we’re actually watching one of the many Netflix stand-up specials and engaging directly with that material, stand-up can be a mere farcical inclusion to films and are notoriously tricky to get right. FSR’s Jacob Oller wrote a great piece about The Big Sick‘s successes as a stand-up film, pointing out that the film “has all the potential to be creepy, but it’s endearing because we can feel the fragility of [Kumail Nanjiani’s] veneer.” Doing that while balancing the emotional and cultural tethers within The Big Sick was no mean feat, which co-writers Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon discuss in this interview.
“We knew [early on] the challenge was, “how do you make this funny?” We knew the story could be emotional, but we didn’t know how it could be funny, because going through it, none of it was funny. But we knew at its most basic, people going through events that they’re not equipped for [is] sort of a funny thing.”
Such slivers of quirks like that made The Big Sick the heart-warming, realistic film it was. Vives’ story would hopefully go in the same vein. Aside from the obvious lack of a coma storyline, there would be the added bonus that the stand-up role will be played by a woman. And we are always here for funny women — especially funny imperfect women if the synopsis is anything to go by. All About Nina may just be a hit in the making.