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Review: “Mr. Nobody”

September 22, 2009
Diane Kruger and Jared Leto during a scene in Mr. Nobody

Diane Kruger and Jared Leto during a scene in Mr. Nobody

Before the second screening of Mr. Nobody at TIFF’09, the film was introduced by a volunteer festival coordinator; a contingency for director Jaco van Dormael, who was already en route to the airport that day.

“This film will blow your mind,” the volunteer said to the chuckling crowd. “No, seriously,” he continued straight faced. “Good luck wrapping your head around it.” With that he smiled and walked calmly off stage right.

Let it not be said he didn’t warn us.

With Mr. Nobody, writer/director Van Dormael seems to make it his personal mission to mindfuck your brain, eyes and general sense of conceptual narrative into submission.

And like most experiences where you get your brains fucked out, the beautiful moments are plentiful. Even when you don’t know what’s going on or why, you’re still enjoying the hell out of it.

Easily classifiable as an art-house experimental dramadyromanciencefiction film, Mr. Nobody stars Jared Leto as the titular Nemo Nobody. At once a curmudgeonly old man in the year 2092 and an unborn child picking his parents (and every other possible permutation in between), Nobody deals heavily in alternate dimensions; exploring how the simplest decisions, events or even words can completely alter the trajectory of our lives.

Having said that, let me assure you: this is not Sliding Doors.

Or, perhaps it is, but only so much as a paper airplane is like an Airbus A380. The film’s tagline; “Nothing is real, everything is possible” is not just a clever marketing slogan — it is an accurate and succinct description of what to expect from this movie.

Despite the convoluted plot (or, more honestly, inconceivably incomprehensible plot), what you’ll see when watching this film is enough to keep you riveted and, importantly, forgiving.

Subtle colour themes differentiate realities and stories without being overly gaudy, Van Dormael crafts some incredibly complex transitions, the cinematography steals your breath from forests to outer space and a utopian CGI future is as polished and believable as any ever set to film. Mr. Nobody is easily — undoubtedly — one of the most visually jaw-dropping movies this year.

Moreover, just because the greater story is confusing doesn’t mean there aren’t some wonderful parts. Sarah Polley is brilliant (and under utilized) as a manic depressive housewife, Leto manages to show surprising range in his myriad roles and teenage actors Juno Temple and Toby Regbo portray Nobody’s adolescent romance and sexual discovery poignantly, down to the rawest nerve and emotion.

Clocking in at a sprawling 140 minutes, Mr. Nobody is a polarizing film. A friend who was at the premiere gala mentioned that one of the questions posed to the French director afterwards was simply: “Come on. Really?” Such is its ability to come off as pretentious post-modern puff.

Make no mistake though, technically, visually and even if you don’t like or understand it, narratively, Mr. Nobody pushes the boundaries of cinema past all your wildest expectations.

Give it a chance and you’ll come out positively glowing.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anupa permalink*
    September 24, 2009 1:13 pm

    This sounds exactly like the kind of movie I want to see. Can’t wait until there is some kind of theatre release, or it comes out on video. I’m not a big Jared Leto fan. Can’t get over his musical alter-ego which forces him to wear a ridiculous amount of guyliner.

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