A 12-year-old swimming star becomes the emotional casualty of her parents’ acrimonious separation, in this powerful coming-of-age story about youth rebelliously standing up to the cruelties and immaturities of adulthood.
Contemporary World Cinema
Marking director Juraj Lehotsky's return to TIFF following his documentary Blind Loves (2008) and first fiction feature Miracle (2013), Nina is a powerful coming-of-age story.
We first glimpse 12-year-old Nina at the swimming pool as she's cheered on while practicing for an important competition. Her cherubic smile radiates the unfettered happiness of childhood. Yet a bigger challenge awaits. Her parents' acrimonious separation chips away at the support meant to carry Nina through to adolescence. As she splits her time between her mother and father, we observe the complexities of the adult world that render Nina a spiritual casualty of her parents' impending divorce and their resultant coping mechanisms. Misunderstood and stuck within an emotional void, Nina's escapist daydreaming soon gives way to rebellious defiance as she begins to take a stand for her happiness and fight against the family's dissolution.
Pairing once again with co-writer Marek Leščák, Lehotsky uses his sensibility as a documentarian to provide an intimate and touching journey of a family torn apart by resentment. First-timer Bibiana Nováková displays a wonderfully bewitching naturalism, bringing Nina to life with the veiled happiness of childhood melancholy, while Petra Fornayová and Robert Roth deliver solid performances as parents caught in the turmoil of separation. From beneath its simple, linear story, Nina emerges with an emotional richness that compels us all to look within and reassess our relationship with love.