Nothing Without You: Film Review

Even Hitchcock would have had trouble pulling off this tricky, convoluted thriller.

A mentally ill young woman attempts to prove herself innocent of murder in Xackery Irving's psychological thriller.

“Every relationship has its ups and downs,” declares the central character at the beginning of Nothing Without You, and the next 95 minutes reveal this to be quite the understatement. Xachery Irving’s independent thriller about a troubled young woman attempting to prove herself innocent of murder offers a few intriguing twists and turns, but unfortunately they’re wholly of the artificial variety.

According to the director, the film was inspired by such films as Vertigo, The Sixth Sense and Memento, which gives you a heads-up as to the narrative tricks being played. The plot revolves around Jennifer (Emily Fradenburgh), who has the disturbing habit of stalking men who are unavailable to her. Top of the list is Michael Greenwood (Joshua Loren), a handsome mayoral candidate who she meets when he happens to visit the mental institution in which she’s being temporarily held.

Becoming instantly besotted, Jennifer sets out to seduce the latest object of her obsession, a task that proves remarkably easy. But when he subsequently refuses to pursue the affair, she resumes her usual habits and begins following him relentlessly. Along the way, she witnesses the brutal killing of his wife, and finds herself promptly accused of being the killer.

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Assigned a court-appointed psychiatrist, Charlie (Keith McGill), she desperately attempts to convince him and everyone else of her innocence. But when no one, including him, believes her, she manages to escape and proceeds to set about finding the real killer, even enlisting the reluctant shrink to help her in her efforts.

The film, which begins as an interesting psychological thriller, quickly devolves into standard crime drama tropes, including a conspiracy involving a crooked detective who isn’t above killing to pursue his ends. But since its central figure is clearly identified as being mentally ill, the events depicted are not entirely to be taken at face value, resulting in supposedly shocking narrative twists that here come across simply as ham-fisted plot machinations.

Making his narrative film debut, documentarian Irving (American Chain Gang) lacks the directorial finesse to make the proceedings remotely convincing, with such devices as casting real police detectives in supporting roles failing to provide the desired verisimilitude. The low-rent production values and generally subpar performances don’t help, although lead actress Fradenburgh delivers an impressive performance in the tricky central role, well conveying her character’s obsessive tendencies as well as her steely determination.  

Far too determinedly clever for its own good, Nothing Without You recalls its cinematic predecessors without remotely approaching their quality.

Cast: Emily Fradenburgh, Keith McGill, Joshua Loren, Will Crawford, Kate Bringardner, Abi van Andel, Clint Vaught

Director/screenwriter/director of photography: Xackery Irving

Producers: Rick Santos, Laura Wilson, Xackery Irving

Editor: Giacomo Ambrosini

Music: Victoria de la Vega

No rating, 95 minutes