Re-working Raskolnikov as a listless but poor goth girl/would-be comic book artist in Sao Paolo, Brazil may have been an ingenious idea. Maybe it would have worked as a farce or a dark comedy. But setting up the expectations of a contemporary reworking of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, NINA shows little understanding of the source material. It's an attempt at a radical reinterpretation that completely misses out on what made Dostoevsky's novel so brilliant. In the novel, the crime is deliberately planned out, committed without remorse. The punishment comes later. Here, it's a crime committed in the heat of the moment where the after-effects are an immediate loss of sanity. It's not simply that the film lacks the psychological depth of the Dostoyevski novel - that would be like complaining that a pond is shallow compared to an ocean - but that we are directed to feel sympathy for Nina. But why should we? We are not given any reason to other than images of her eating cat food. As a portrait of the difficulties facing Brazilian youth, the film serves as its own worst enemy since, in the case of its protagonist, it makes the difficulties appear to be self-imposed. Director Heitor Dhalia also wants to have it both ways - Nina steals from a blind man but then she gives part of her loot to a woman who's been violently thrown out of a cab for not having the money to pay for the ride. And I have nothing wrong with unlikeable protagonists (they can make for compelling films) but that the film attempts to elicit feelings of sympathy for her while not giving us any reason to. As a "descent into the mind of someone losing their mind", the film lacks the urban suffocation of the masterpiece of the genre, Roman Polanski's REPULSION. Attempts at creepy atmospherics feel forced (a product of the sound design/cinematography) and lacking any emotional depth or resonance.
By far, the highlight of the film is Myrian Muniz as the landlady from hell who plays the part with repulsive perfection (her evil wench is reminiscent of Anne Ramsey of THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN and THE GOONIES fame).
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