Rob and Holly are in the early stages of their relationship. There is a problem though. When they try to have sex, Nina, Rob’s dead girlfriend keeps visiting them.
As usual, spoilers.
Clearly this isn’t too difficult to decipher. The memory of Nina will always loom over their relationship, because Rob’s and Nina’s relationship never had that ending most relationships have. The thing is, you might think Nina is a ghost or apparition of some sort, but no. She appears naked, in her mangled flesh, bleeding all over the bed.
Although we sometimes skip to Rob, our viewpoint character is mostly Holly. We learn about Nina as she learns about Nina. She is the protagonist, who is actively trying to find a way to get rid of her. Actually, there is a point in the movie where Holly is trying to come to terms with Nina. She is trying to include a dead sarcastic car crash victim in their sex lives.
And Nina is not shy about her objections to their relationship. She is the one who voices everything the couple might have trepidations about and does it very bluntly. All those things they don’t want to talk about, she’s is going to smear blood over it. Her movements are limited due to the physical damage from her accident, but it also gives her a presence even beyond the blood and the insulting tone. All her movements and even poses are full of meaning. Props to the actress for her physical work here.
Nina’s presence is first a metaphor for the baggage of former relationships (whether one of them is dead or not), but for Holly, she evolves into a metaphor of everything for things you don’t want to talk about. She keeps hiding Nina’s presence from Rob by throwing out stuff and cleaning up blood. The baggage is there, but since it doesn’t get resolved, it just gets pushed into the background.
However, in the end, Holly tests out a theory (by cheating with another guy) that Nina is there actually for her and it turns out that she’s right. Why? As far as I understand it, Nina didn’t know Holly before her death. The way I understand this, Holly herself has made this all about her.
We do see that Rob is still in many ways hung up on Nina. He still visits Nina’s parents regularly and there still seems to be a lot of her stuff at his apartment. This is actually the reason Holly seems to become obsessed with her as she finds the abovementioned reminders of Nina’s existence. On the other hand, we don’t really see Rob handling these items. In the beginning of the movie, Rob is in a horrible accident himself and Holly (who knows him from their shared place of work) just assumes (like everyone else, apparently) that the accident was a suicide attempt.
However, Rob doesn’t drive his bike after the accident. Are the suicidal tendencies just something people made up? Is Holly just hoping that Nina’s ghost is lingering there somewhere? Very early in the movie she states that she finds Rob’s (possibly made up) suicidal ideas romantic. Does Holly actually will Nina’s (I guess it would be called revenant) into their lives, because that was the reason she was actually interested in Rob and in her mind, Nina will always be there to keep them apart?
The movie does drag a bit at times, but it is quite interesting. The theme is very unique and I would like to see what the pair of co-director-writers could come up with, but they haven’t had a new opportunity to make another movie as of this writing. Well, six years is not that long if you are a independent moviemaker, so perhaps we’ll get another some day.
But there’s one more question: Is the movie funny? Yes. Rob and Holly are mostly quite straight characters (except for Holly’s fascination with Rob’s “romanticism”), but Nina is very funny. Could we get like a series with her giving relationship advice to shocked couples? I guess it could get old fast, but there is potential for the character. It’s just hard to use her in any other context because of her personal connection to this specific situation.