There can be no greater tragedy which can befall parents than the loss of a child. I can’t even begin to comprehend the emotional toll that must take, how you can ever begin to deal with the grief or move on with your life. However, when a son or daughter disappears or is kidnapped it must be even worse. The lack of closure or certainty can haunt families for the rest of their lives. This is the theme for Christina Choe’s feature writing and directorial debut, Nancy.

Lonely and bored, Nancy Freeman (Andrea Riseborough) invents elaborate stories in an attempt to connect with other people. When her mother (Ann Dowd), who has Parkinson’s disease, dies suddenly Nancy feels lost. However, when she sees a news story about a couple, Ellen (J. Smith-Cameron) and Leo (Steve Buscemi), whose daughter disappeared 30 years ago, it peaks her interest. As she bears a resemblance, Nancy decides to contact the couple claiming to be their daughter.

Nancy is an assured drama about the pain of loss and the effects grief can have on the mind. As she gradually slips into the role of the daughter, the veracity of Nancy’s claim seems to matter less and less to Ellen. Andrea Riseborough is phenomenal as the troubled lead. There’s a subtlety and mastery to her performance. Her face seems to run through a whole gamut of emotions. Nancy is a well-contained and mature drama about human relationships and the aching sadness of loneliness.

Nancy is released on DVD and digital download by Studiocanal on 5 November.