NINA TAKES A LOVER is the story of a bored married woman who has an affair while her husband is away on business. Writer-director Alan Jacobs, feeling that 90s films had been dreadfully lacking in romance, set out to fill a void. The film's resulting box-office failure may be more due to
the public's distaste for dialogue and subtlety than the fact that his goal was only partially realized.
The film opens with Nina (Laura San Giacomo) telling her tale in flashback to a reporter (Michael O'Keefe) who is writing a story about marital infidelity. Nina feels restless because her marriage lacks romance. When her best friend (Cristi Conaway) begins an affair with Paulie (Fisher Stevens),
the owner of a local coffee shop, Nina disapproves but is fascinated. When her husband leaves for a three-week business trip, Nina meets a handsome British photographer (Paul Rhys) in a park. Despite her initial hesitancy, his charm and her attraction to him prevail, and the two begin an affair.
Nina insists that her affair is different than her friend's. While Paulie is childish and unreliable, the photographer is mature and attentive. Her friend's affair may be a fling, but Nina's is true love. The affair changes Nina's life. The unpredictability and excitement it brings make her feel
important and worthwhile.
One day, while in the photographer's studio, Nina discovers that he has been sleeping with other women. The news reporter doesn't understand her feeling of betrayal, so she admits to him that the photographer is her husband, and the "affair" was simply an attempt to bring some spice into their
marriage. Nina reacts to her husband's infidelity by unsuccessfully trying to seduce Paulie. After that failure, she decides to completely reevaluate the marriage. The film ends on a positive note, with Nina and the photographer reunited, determined to bring the romance of their "affair" into
their everyday life.
NINA TAKES A LOVER is Jacobs's first feature film, and it shows impressive style. San Francisco's charm is well used; it seems like the most romantic city on earth. The film's use of coffee shops and parks effectively brings the viewer into Nina's world. Nina and the photographer are complex,
fully realized characters, and the emotions in the film are believable and powerful. The acting is of high quality, and Stevens is as strong as San Giacomo and Rhys. On the other hand, the flashback technique is a distraction that exists only to expose the film's secret. Nina's voice-overs are
often awkward ("I loved making love to him"), but the dialogue, which is solid and intelligent, compensates. The film's statement that monogamy is more romantic than infidelity is supported by the chaotic and unfulfilling affair of Laura's friend. However, since much of the film's strength comes
from the danger and mystery of Nina's affair, the conclusion seems halfhearted.
Jacobs's biggest fear about the film was that the general public, who usually favor action and sex over dialogue and romance, wouldn't give it a chance. Both leads believed in Jacobs and the script enough to appear in the film for less than their usual fees, and the film is clearly a labor of
love. Despite its flaws, NINA TAKES A LOVER shows talent and deserves more attention than it received. (Sexual situations, nudity, profanity.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: NINA TAKES A LOVER is the story of a bored married woman who has an affair while her husband is away on business. Writer-director Alan Jacobs, feeling that 90s films had been dreadfully lacking in romance, set out to fill a void. The film's resulting box-o… (more)