review for Nowhere on AllMovie

Nowhere (1997)
by Brian J. Dillard review

The content, tone, and overall worth of 1997's Nowhere -- the glossiest and final installment in director Gregg Araki's "teen apocalypse trilogy" -- falls somewhere between the lurid existential thrills of 1995's Doom Generation and the self-indulgent neo-documentary soap opera of 1993's Totally F***ed Up. The world of Nowhere is as day-glo brilliant as that of Doom Generation, but it's also typically squalid and painful underneath the neon. Casual viewers will enjoy the numerous starlets and icons who populate Araki's L.A., from Ryan Phillippe, Christina Applegate, and Mena Suvari to a bevy of sitcom survivors, hipster footnotes, and former porn stars. But for those who take Araki seriously in spite of, or because of, his postmodern gamesmanship, Nowhere is closer in emotional weight to David Lynch's Lost Highway than to an Aaron Spelling soap or a Hollywood teen sex comedy. As in his earlier films, Araki infests his characters with vacuous youthfulness and glamorous angst, then does terrible things to them once he's convinced viewers to somehow care. The cast this time is so cluttered, however, that it's up to a few performers with emotional depth, such as Guillermo Diaz and Sarah Lassez, to lend gravity to the proceedings. Nowhere is the first installment in the trilogy in which the character played by Araki's muse, James Duval, doesn't suffer a pointless and hideous death, but that doesn't mean the director doesn't masochistically torture his spiritual stand-in. The terrific love quadrangle between the characters played by the bewildered Duval, the wickedly right-on Rachel True, the soulfully stammering Nathan Bexton, and the deliciously tart Kathleen Robertson is a perfect snapshot of Araki's polymorphously perverse, pervasively nihilistic worldview. And when Duval ends up alone at the film's end, covered for once in somebody else's blood, adherents of Araki's attention-deficit philosophizing will find the scene as devastating as any straightforward tragedy.