Under Review: ‘Nothing Personal’


The ring comes off the finger. Stripped of lipstick, comb, home, relationships and name, the woman leaves her country and takes a plane to Ireland. A backpack with a tent is all she owns as she walks down the highway, slipping off during the nights to camp.

Wet, windy, desolate. Like the cold environment, she’s rude without pretense.

This is what can happen in the rage over loss and the perceived betrayal of life — feeling forsaken by the fates and all humanity. There is a dying, a leave-taking, of the world.

Our angry woman meets an older widower who lives isolated on an island. He’s kind and curious about her. In her need for food she accepts the job of keeping house for him – though with the promise there will be no questions, no contact, and no relationship. He is successful in getting her to move from her tent out back to a spare bedroom, but she prefers to eat alone, the solitude bringing a comforting, safe distance from anything that can hurt her.

The silence arcs with current as the two jostle to keep their distance from the other.

Urszula Antoniak, director and writer, is depicting lives shattered by loss. We have choices, but it is part of the human genome to seek the collective, the group, the other. As a matter of fact, inclusion in the collective seems to be the healing agent. No matter how sure we are that we are done with people, with life and with living, there is an instinctive thread that pulls us back into the fold. Whether that fold is one person, a family, or a group, humans gravitate to belonging.

This beautiful, tender story of reaction to loss, of the metaphorical dying that occurs, mirrors the delicate but hardy natural setting of the northern coast of Ireland. It’s a complex story told with few words and strong emotion. Life brings us challenges and choices as well as genetically pre-determined longings and inescapable desires. How our nameless woman suffers her anguish and fights off the world, dying and then rising, is a mirror to all who have suffered loss and sets the stage for the beginning of this beautiful film.

Olive Films presents the US release of “Nothing Personal” at Cinema Village in New York Nov. 19, and at Sunset 5 in Los Angeles on Nov. 26.


Direction and Screenplay: Urszula Antoniak
Cast: Stephen Rea and Lotte Verbeek
Runtime: 85 minutes
Country: The Netherlands, Ireland
Language: English
13 Awards including Marrakech FF Best Actress, Locarno FF Best Actress, Best First Feature, Dutch FF Best Film, Director, Photography and Sound Design, Seville FF Sward

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