An Over-simplification of Her Beauty

One of those movies you didn’t realize you’d been waiting for, Terence Nance’s frolicsome feature debut is truly something special. This nervy rhapsody on the theme of unrequitedness, seven years in the making, builds itself up from multiple reframings of Nance’s earlier autobiographical short film, How Would You Feel? Elaborate self-examination ensues when Nance, a gloriously afro’d twentysomething New Yorker of highly cerebral artistic inclination, finds himself stood up by a woman he adores, who seems to adore him back but also to have begun an exclusive relationship with another man. As the product of an angst-free upbringing (he calls it “the Cosby effect”), Nance seems uniquely poised to turn boy-meets-girl banalities inside out. What’s most touching about his confession is that its vulnerability comes with full awareness that he’s cloaked himself in layers of lyrical artifice. Nance’s magpie nest of styles includes jaunty documentary techniques and multiple modes of animation, woven together in a funny, sincere, un-lazy way. (It seems forgivable or maybe even strategic that his copious screen titles sometimes misspell the word “ambivalence.”) Abundant second-person narration could be alienating, as when calling out “your addiction to the unpredictability of your feast-and-famine romantic existence,” but in fact proves disarmingly apt. Who doesn’t know what it’s like to be all up in your head about whether and how to wear your heart on your sleeve?