This original ghost story looks at grief with both humour and poignancy.
The debut feature from Ben and Chris Blaine is a blackly comedic character study that takes its setup from a fairly common circumstance – the prospect of starting a new relationship in the shadow of much-beloved or outstanding former partner. However, while a number of relationships are haunted by the intangible spectre of a previous love, in Nina Forever the problem is a little more substantial, in every respect.
Following the death of his girlfriend Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Outcast) in a car accident, Rob (Cian Barry, Real Playing Game) has quit his PhD, taken a minimum wage job at a supermarket, and even tried a half-hearted attempt at suicide. His tragic story has caught the attention of Holly (Abigail Hardingham), a co-worker and trainee paramedic with a fascination for all things morbid. The pair begin a tentative relationship, but their first attempt at consummation is rudely interrupted when the formerly deceased Nina appears in the bed with them, limbs twisted from the crash and dripping blood. Equally surprised by her sudden return to corporeal existence, she is not impressed by the other girl’s presence. When Rob points out that she’s supposed to be dead, Nina snaps back: ‘That doesn’t mean we’re on a break!’
Despite the fact that Nina reappears whenever they try to have sex, Rob and Holly do their best to maintain their relationship, even trying to bring the ex-ex into a somewhat unorthodox ménage à trois situation that nonetheless fails entirely. Their other attempts, including having sex on Nina’s grave, are equally unsuccessful. Eventually a series of unforeseen events forces Rob and Holly to reassess the situation and the possible reasons behind it.
Even though it presents a number of humorous moments, Nina Forever is actually a serious look at the nature of grief (and to a lesser extent attraction). Rob and Holly might be struggling to deal with Nina’s very real presence, but the dead girl’s parents are no less affected, even though it’s only intangible memories they are trying to process. They’re not even able to move on in the ways Rob is attempting; he can blot out and replace his memories, but that’s simply not an option for Nina’s parents. Ironically their only desire (to have their daughter back with them) has turned into Rob’s nightmare, highlighting the somewhat transitory nature of his grief as compared to theirs, which can never be removed, only accommodated.
However, although they are dealing with serious themes, the Blaines are also careful to balance the more sober elements with humorous situations and witty dialogue, including Nina’s priceless observation that putting white sheets on the bed might not be the best way to go, all things considered. All three primary cast members are solid, but Abigail Hardingham gives a standout performance in a role that could easily have become a fairly archetypal ‘weird girl’. It’s good to see that her career as a paramedic becomes something more than just an extension of her morbid interests, thanks to a key scene that shows she may have a genuine talent for helping people in distress. In all Nina Forever is a confident, original debut that suggests Ben and Chris Blaine may have an interesting career ahead of them.
Watch the trailer: