Film Review: The Nan Movie (2022)

Jawdroppingly bad. The barely-known behind-the-scenes drama of The Nan Movie proves far more interesting than anything happening onscreen

“What’s going on? Am I having a stroke?”

Maybe one day the full truth behind Catherine Tate vehicle The Nan Movie will be revealed, heaven knows it would be infinitely better than the film itself. Its release was certainly hampered by indefinite postponements during the pandemic but its problems reportedly started way before then, as the fact that no director is credited here attests to. 

T’internet suggests that investors were deeply unhappy with the material presented in original director Josie Rourke’s first cut which centred on a 1940s WWII storyline that explored the backstory of Nan – Tate’s Joanie Taylor – and the origins of a decades-long feud with her sister. Rourke departed, new material was hastily put together to bolster the modern-day road-trip storyline and they all hoped no-one would notice.  

But it is impossible to ignore how chronically bad the final result is here. Stretching out a sketch show character to a full-length feature film lead is always tricky but you can see what Rourke was initially aiming for, by telling a rather non Nan-ish tale. And the hints of what could have been are there – Rosalie Craig as her mother, Rebecca Trehearn as a cabaret singer, and a tangled wartime love triangle with sister Nell (Katherine Parkinson) which has some potential.

Instead, we’re presented with a sledgehammer of gay jibes, toilet humour and fat jokes within the first 20 minutes that are desperately unfunny, even as they fall into recognisable ‘Nan’ territory. And the shoddiness of this writing (credited to Tate and Brett Goldstein) – as Nan and Mathew Horne’s grandson Jamie take a roadtrip to Ireland to see Nell, who has broken her silence to inform them of her imminent demise – is evident in cheaply mounted sequences and bizarre diversions into animation (where presumably they couldn’t afford – or bother with – new scenes.

The Nan Movie is jaw-droppingly bad. But worse than that, it isn’t even so bad it is good. It is lazily offensive, then makes moves to more active offensiveness with a ‘twist’ at the end. You’re left wondering why Rourke even allowed her executive producer credit to remain on the film. 

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