Nowhere (1997)

Release Date: May 9, 1997
Director: Gregg Araki
Screenplay By: Gregg Araki
Cast: James Duval, Rachel True, Nathan Bexton, Kathleen Robertson, Christina Applegate, Scott Caan

Thanks to From the Depths of DVD Hell and MUBI.

What the hell did I just watch?

Watching Gregg Araki’s Nowhere was… a surreal experience to say the least. Half the time wondering what was really going on, but being unable to take my eyes off of the screen, Nowhere is plagued with tons of people you may recognize one way or the other — including a cameo by Staci Keanan and a prominent supporting role for a super skinny Guillermo Diaz.

Nowhere follows Dark Smith (Duval, Frank in Donnie Darko), a young camera aficionado who’s looking for someone to love. At first, he believes that person to be his girl, Mel (True), but sexuality is so fluid that Mel seems a bit more interested in her girl, Lucifer (Robertson).

The gang is trying to get by in their boring existence with some drugs and alcohol and the occasional purging for a group of girls that includes braced-teeth Dingbat (Applegate), who seems more interested in whom Ducky (Caan) has slept with.

While Dark Smith tries to figure out what Mel is all about, there’s green/blue-eyed Montgomery (Bexton) to make things interesting.

Oh, I forgot — there’s also a human-sized lizard involved.

Nowhere feels a lot like Donnie Darko — or I guess, Richard Kelly intended Darko to feel a lot like Nowhere — besides the Duval connection. Both films are about a group of people connecting in different ways through strange happenings. There’s also a motivational speaker involved — played by the late John Ritter in here.

However, what Araki’s story is lacking is an actual cohesive line to follow. Not many problems with that, though. The film is out there enough to keep you wondering what’s really going to happen there. And trust me, ANYTHING can happen in this movie.

Nowhere looks a little bit dated, but still feels like the 90s in aesthetic — I couldn’t understand half the teen dialogue there. Maybe I just have issues understanding teenagers because it’s a recurring issue of mine when watching films. In any case, there’s not much exploration of LGBT themes here, the sexuality is more like a non-issue, and people getting together felt natural (really weird, but natural nonetheless)… though, Dark Smith does get a little mopey when his “relationship” with Mel goes, well… “nowhere.”

That ending… that ending scene is probably already a cult classic, and worth your watch.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Part of the 2012 LGBT Blogathon.


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

4 Responses

  1. Elwood Jones says:

    It’s a strange movie to say the least and not helped by it’s questionable plotting and multiple plot threads, but it is still one of my favorite Araki movies and certainly the best of the “Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy” to which it belongs. While now unquestionably dated, I still find that it has a certain charm like films such as “Go” though being a child of the 90’s I feel slightly biased in my love of Indie films from this era.

    Personally I found it more similar to Richard Kelly’s severely underrated “Southland Tales” rather than “Donnie Darko”. Araki’s “Kaboom” on the other hand is definite contender for this comparison, so perhaps Richard Kelly did ultimately influence Araki, in the same way you saw him influence Kelly with this film.

    Still i’m not sure what it is about James Duval, but he always does seem mopey when directed by Araki.

    Cool review :)

    • amy says:

      @Elwood Jones, I grew up with Go, as well! Though I really thing I should’ve been a bit older to actually see it for what it was. I remember thinking it was just plain weird – I don’t know what I would’ve thought of Nowhere back then.

      I haven’t ventured into Kelly’s filmography, despite my love for Donnie Darko. I didn’t actually know of Darko until 2003 or 2004. I love the regular cut of the film, but I have conflicted feelings towards the Director’s Cut xD so I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to watch more Richard Kelly!

      • Elwood Jones says:

        @amy, Nowhere I had to watch a couple of times to really get, as with your first couple of viewings you just get distracted alot of the time by the general weirdness happening on the screen. “Go” here in the UK kind of came out and disappeared so it was actually alot later that I discovered it on VHS (How retro am I) and totally adored it.

        The Directors cut of “Donnie Darko” was too bad, I just felt that the soundtrack changes didn’t really work, while it also felt that it explained away too much of the mystery, which made the original cut so special. Still Kelly’s work on the whole is really underrated, as he also wrote the script for “Domino” which would have been alot better had it not been for the miscasting of Kiera Knightly, who once again was just plain awful. If you like “Donnie Darko” I would really recommend “Southland Tales” though at the same time approach “The Box” with caution.

        • amy says:

          @Elwood Jones, I’ll keep it in mind next time I ran into Kelly’s stuff. I don’t think there’s anything on MUBI xD

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