Starring Anna Castillo and Tamar Novas
Nowhere is a very solid Spanish survival thriller driven by a riveting central performance.
Fleeing an authoritarian regime, a pregnant woman named Mia (Anna Castillo) finds herself adrift inside a shipping container in the middle of the ocean.
An effective “bottle film” (a film with a small, confined setting), Nowhere creatively mines tension (and some humour) from Mia’s plight.
Castillo delivers an enthralling performance of desperation, tenacity and tenderness as Mia. After Mia gives birth, the film draws some amusement from her dealing with the stress of motherhood in an extreme situation. Mia’s hunger, dwindling supplies and the rising water level, caused by bullet-holes in the container’s hull, generate strong ongoing suspense, but as Mia figures out ways to survive, the damp, desolate setting becomes almost cozy as she bonds with her newborn Noa. It’s also fun to watch Mia find uses for the seemingly useless junk inside the container.
Nowhere stumbles slightly in its opening and ending. The world-building stretches credulity: a totalitarian regime rounding up pregnant women and children is implausibly evil. The first act, which draws clear visual inspiration from Children of Men, has a very tense scene of a regime officer searching for a shipment of scared refugees, and when he finds them, the resulting massacre would have been more shocking if the film hadn’t shown us; as with horror, sometimes our imagination is scarier than what we can see. A time-jump in the final act undermines the film’s pacing, and the climax has a miraculous turn of events that feels downright silly after such a grounded narrative.
A compelling bottle movie with an outstanding lead performance, Nowhere is available for streaming on Netflix.
– Seth Lukas Hynes