Derek Michalak may wish to add a new credit to his professional accomplishments: alchemist. Michalak, who is well known in Off-Broadway theater and who has occasionally turned up in small roles on several television programs, gets the starring role in the New York-based indie “Nina” and single-handedly elevates an enervated screenplay with an extraordinary performance.
“Nina” is saved by Michalak’s central performance as the alcohol-fueled cook. He brings a brooding presence that is fairly startling – his character’s angst is so raw and genuine that it often seems that he is the subject of a documentary. Michalak achieves more with his silent gaze than most actors can do with reams of dialogue – whether quietly seething when encountering a street gang that left him battered, hopefully gazing at a would-be object of affection or searching a far horizon for hope to lift him from his pain, Michalak is a refreshing force of energy that gives “Nina” far more cred than it would otherwise demand.
Phil Hall/Film Threat Magazine
Michalak was terrifically comic as he delivered a monologue about insecurity, women, and shoplifting.
Review by David Mackler
Actor Derek Michalak creates a truly moving character out of Joe. Michalak gives the role a great balance between a kind of isolation and a slightly pathetic quality that earns the sympathy of the viewer without ever becoming manipulative.
"Derek Michalak, a veteran of stage and screen, gives a convincing and grounded performance as a man of both tremendous vulnerability and strength'
Richard Propes/The Independent Critic