Downloading Nancy

Critics Consensus

Unseemly, unsettling, and unremittingly bleak, Downloading Nancy is slickly made but mostly unpleasant.



Reviews Counted: 31

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,038


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 2.9/5

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Movie Info

A self-destructive housewife takes what may be her final step into the abyss in this independent psychological drama. Nancy Stockwell (Maria Bello) is a woman edging into her forties who has fallen into a deep and prolonged state of depression, finding her only solace in self-inflicted pain. Nancy has grown weary of her relationship with her husband, Albert (Rufus Sewell), and one day he comes home from work to find a note in which Nancy says she's decided to visit an old friend for a few days. When Nancy doesn't call after several days, Albert begins to worry that something is wrong, and he soon learns that Nancy hasn't told him the truth. Nancy has struck up an on-line relationship with Louis Farley (Jason Patric), who has a passion for violent sex, and she has decided to meet with him in person, but she has more in mind than just a fling -- she believes that Louis is the man who can end her misery by killing her. Also featuring Amy Brenneman as Nancy's analyst, Downloading Nancy was the first English-language feature from Swedish filmmaker Johan Renck.

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Maria Bello
as Nancy Stockwell
Jason Patric
as Louis Farley
Rufus Sewell
as Albert Stockwell

News & Interviews for Downloading Nancy

Critic Reviews for Downloading Nancy

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (10)

  • You can't really blame Bello for taking every chance available to let her monster talent off its chain, even when the opportunity takes the form of something so ill conceived and unworthy (and dull and ridiculous) as Downloading Nancy.

    Jul 10, 2009 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
  • Some suspense arises about just how far the woman's sickness will take her, but it's overwhelmed by the pointlessness of the story.

    Jun 5, 2009 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Downloading Nancy is a nasty exploitation flick tarted up with art-house actors and psychobabble.

    Jun 5, 2009 | Rating: 0.5/5
  • A chilly, bleak film about characters so programmatic that their plight is easy to shrug off.

    Jun 4, 2009 | Rating: D+

    Noel Murray

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • For all the bad behavior on display, the emotional stakes remain hazily defined.

    Jun 3, 2009 | Rating: 2/6 | Full Review…

    Kevin B. Lee

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • What makes the movie a trial to sit through isn't just the heroine's pain-freak tastes. It's that a kinkfest with this blah an emotional spectrum is selling its own chic form of puritanism -- sex with all the life force repressed.

    Jun 3, 2009 | Rating: C- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Downloading Nancy

Most films that explore sadomasochism do so in ways that can still be appealing and alluring to an audience comprised of people with relatively normal, well-adjusted ideas about sex and sexuality, but this is a notable exception. The sadomasochistic scenes in Downloading Nancy are fucking brutal, cringe-worthy, and unrelenting, and Bello and Patric are nakedly committed to "going there," living the realities of their characters. At its core, there is indeed little to this story, and we should be given some reason to hope for a different ending than what's inevitable. This lack of any true suspense is the film's major flaw. But by the same token, I think we go to independent movies to see a purposeful rejection of Hollywood's common narratives. Overall, this film is dark, disturbing, depressing, nihilistic, and courageous - the perfect date movie.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


A tough sit - very good performance from Maria Bello - but man is this dreary, slow, dark stuff. After a while, you just want to scream at the screen, "Just die already!". Not without its merits, but I can't imagine someone wanting to sit through this who doesn't have to vote for the Independent Spirit Awards.

Glenn Gaylord
Glenn Gaylord

Super Reviewer


First of all, this film is by no means a feel good, popcorn popping piece of cinema. It's a rather dark, disturbing tale shot in quite dismal premises to tell a story that is real, but not one people want to hear. However, I was glued to the screen due to the brilliant acting performances by Maria Bello and Jason Patric. They portray characters whose tattered souls take comfort in one another through the internet using e-mail, pictures, and promises of sordid sexual encounters. Nancy(Bello), is a severely damaged woman due to being a victim of child abuse, and self mutilation is something that she simply can't keep herself from comitting. Her husband only cares about his virtual golf game he's set up in a downstairs room as she is suffering above. She sees a therapist, but what is it that Nancy ultimately needs? When it comes down to it, a download can contain various information, good and bad, but it does not however contain a pulse.

Eric S
Eric S

Super Reviewer

In "Downloading Nancy," Nancy(Maria Bello) is a housewife who has been married to Albert(Rufus Sewell) for fifteen years. One day, she leaves home on a bus, leaving a note for her husband that she has gone to Baltimore. Four days later and no news, Albert has not yet called the police. Nancy is an incest survivor who sees a caring psychiatrist(Amy Brenneman) but it does not stop her from continually cutting herself. If Albert were not so totally engrossed in golfing, he might have noticed her looking on the internet for an outlet for her pain. It is there that she finds Louis(Jason Patric). As Susie Bright once pointed out, there is no connection between having been abused and a sadomasochistic lifestyle. So, while Nancy having been sexually abused as a child could not explain her sexuality, it could explain her lack of emotional development. At this point, she is emotionally a teenager, always needing attention and selfishly pursuing her goal at the expense of the people who care for her. Through a trippy time structure that I have seen before, "Downloading Nancy," a darkly perverse movie, makes a valiant attempt to tell her story with some success due to a fearless performance from Maria Bello.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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