Nina Wu

Directed by Midi Z
Film Movement
2019
103 Minutes
Taiwan, Malaysia, Myanmar
Mandarin
Drama, Thriller, LGBTQ
Not Rated

Now in virtual cinemas and on demand & digital

After toiling for years in bit-parts, aspiring actress Nina Wu (Ke-Xi Wu, who also co-wrote the script based on her own personal experiences) finally gets her big break with a leading role in a spy thriller set in the 1960s. The part, which calls for nudity and explicit sex scenes, is made all the more challenging thanks to the director’s unending belittlements. While seemingly on the brink of professional triumph, Nina’s psychological resolve begins to crack under the pressure. As she rushes to her childhood home following a family emergency, Nina begins suffering paranoid fantasies that a mysterious woman is stalking and attacking her. As Nina clings to memories of happier times, it seems that there is one crucial memory that she is repressing…

This sumptuous, stylized thriller, reminiscent of Mulholland Drive, Black Swan and other poison pen letters to the entertainment industry, is a “a vividly disorientating #metoo themed drama” (Screen Daily) anchored by Wu’s “ferocious, driven performance” (The Hollywood Reporter).

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Reviews

  • "Thrilling, you have to see it twice!"
    Quentin Tarantino
  • "With a screenplay by actress Wu Ke-xi (The Road to Mandalay) – who spoke of being inspired both by her own experience as a struggling actress and by the Harvey Weinstein sexual-abuse scandal across the Atlantic – Nina Wu is taut, topical and terrifying. Wu is a tour de force in the title role.... Florian Zinke’s slow-moving camerawork and Lim Giong’s haunting soundtrack help build the suspense that makes seeing Nina Wu a gripping experience."
    Clarence Tsui, South China Morning Post
  • "Wu Kexi turns in a rivetingly brittle, vulnerable performance, navigating her own co-written script with absolute conviction, while Midi Z, formerly best known for works of social realism, luxuriates in ornamenting this psychodrama with hyperstylized noir flourishes. DP Florian Zinke’s color-blocked camerawork is sinuous and prowling...."
    Jessica Kiang, Variety
  • "The intent on the part of Wu and Midi Z is unquestionably to inflame the viewer by unflinchingly showing what some young women have to go through to get anywhere in show business. And it’s obvious that the central desire of the co-writer and star is to vividly present Nina’s humiliation, disgrace and pain in order to plainly communicate what untold numbers of women have gone through to get somewhere in show business. It’s a ferocious, driven performance."
    Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
  • "Nina Wu is a powerful and bitter critique of the degradation perpetrated against vulnerable women in the ‘entertainment industry,’ and the long psychological shadow it casts over them. "
    Andrew Blackie, FilmInk
  • "Critic's Pick! ...startlingly evocative, complex and confrontational.... Like “Mulholland Drive,” a clear touchstone, “Nina Wu” grows increasingly disjunctive as beguiling, eerily sensual incursions from a jealous rival rattle the actress. At the same time, cinematic illusion is rendered indistinguishable from reality with rug-pulling that feels genuinely shocking."
    Beatrice Loayza, The New York Times
  • "Wu is great in the lead role, bringing real depth to the character despite her frequent silence and submission to the men around her. Traumatic memory is a powerful thing and Midi Z’s slippery plot digs out its roots, with this bold and tragic take on consent and abuse."
    Tom Bond, One Room with a View
  • "The star of this psychological thriller, Wu Ke-Xi, is also the screenwriter of the picture, a vividly disorientating #metoo themed drama. It’s clearly a personal work: Wu has drawn upon her own experiences as a young and vulnerable actress within the film and television industries for a story which gives a powerful account of the post-traumatic stress suffered by the victims of powerful and unscrupulous industry insiders. "
    Wendy Ide, Screen Daily
  • "Nina Wu harrowingly damns a system that thrives on the trauma and suffering felt by women like Nina, and the way it drives and pushes them over the edge just to satisfy the desires of abusive male directors and producers. It also shows how the successes achieved by many of these actresses, the smiles and congratulations that come after the undignified treatment, are forever tainted by irreparably scarring experiences. The fact that the lead actress Wu Ke-Xi co-wrote the film certainly helps giving it a strong sense of raw and blunt truth, also felt in her bold and courageous performance. "
    Pedro Serafim, Film Era
  • "Wu, who wrote the screenplay, remains utterly compelling throughout -- deeply troubled with plenty of mood swings -- while leaving the source of her angst a mystery."
    Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight
  • "...impressive, both contextually and visually."
    Panos Kotzathanasis, Asian Movie Pulse
  • "Traumatic memory is a powerful thing and Midi Z's slippery plot digs out its roots, with this bold and tragic take on consent and abuse."
    Tom Bond, One Room with a View
  • "NINA WU is a gut punch. Recommended."
    Steve Kopian, Unseen Films
  • "A stylish psychological thriller in the vein of Mulholland Drive (2001) and Black Swan (2010). The semi-autobiographical story (partly inspired by Wu’s own experiences, as well as the stories linked to the #MeToo movement) is written by the film’s luminous leading star Wu Ke-Xi, and it tackles the darker side of the film industry and the hefty price some must pay for stardom head-on. The story may be a stylised, enigmatic mix between reality and fantasy, but Z and Wu’s take on the subject is a candid one, pulling no punches and taking no prisoners. "
    Niina Doherty, Diabolique Magazine
  • "Wu Ke-Xi ... gives a fantastic performance as she endures harassment–-both subdued and appalling––as an actress mounting her breakout role. "
    Jordan Raup, The Film Stage
  • "Taipei actress Nina Wu [is] played by screenwriter Wu Ke-Xi in a steel-jawed dagger of a performance.... Myanmar-born director Midi Z — weaponizing the hazy language of a psychological thriller to confront hard truths in this bold and challenging departure from more naturalistic migrant dramas like “The Road to Mandalay” — pulls his muse towards uncertain territory. Leaning closer towards the psychic dissolution of “Mulholland Dr.” than it does to the candied score-settling of “Promising Young Woman,” “Nina Wu” eschews the simple dynamics of victimhood in order to examine the sickening vertigo of semi-forced complicity. “Nina Wu” becomes ... a searing indictment of systemic exploitation in the entertainment industry...."
    David Ehrlich, IndieWire
  • "[I]t’s Wu’s staggering, in-your-face lead performance and her character’s shifting range of emotions — along with the context for those emotions — that add so much depth and shock value. Nina Wu isn’t just a “#MeToo thriller” or “slow burn cinema,” it’s a progressive spin on psychological horror and a master class in visceral visual design."
    Q.V. Hough, Vague Visages
  • "Ke-Xi Wu carries this film. She gives a powerhouse performance as Nina. "
    Victoria Potenza, Movie Jawn
  • "Nina Wu is a painful and powerful film, with a bold style and striking performances, telling a story that looks at the pressures and abuses to succeed in a cut throat industry. Watch it."
    Watch or Pass
  • "Wu, who also serves as co-writer, is astonishing in her dexterity and ability to evoke the confrontational as certainly as the desolate."
    Sarah-Tai Black, Los Angeles Times