Mr. Nobody

The last living mortal, age 118 years, is telling his story from a hospital bed in a future where everyone is now “semi-immortal.”

mr-nobody-movieThis man, Mr. Nobody, explains that before the big bang, there were 10 dimensions: 9 of them spatial and 1 temporal, and all were balled tightly together. When the big banged, 4 of these expanded: 3 of them spatial (we know them as length, width, and depth) and the fourth, temporal (time). The rest of the spatial dimensions remained bound up – but what if one of t hose six was actually temporal?

This movie explores the possibility of parallel universes existing for different choices that we 4make. Mr. Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto) remembers all of these universes as if he’s experienced them all. He remembers choosing to live with is mother AND choosing to live with his father. He remembers marrying and having a family with each of his childhood sweethearts. We see snippets from all of these lives as he recounts them as an old man to one very confused journalist.

The movie is experienced a little like a dream, non-linear sequences spliced together, recurring sounds and images, the visuals imaginative if not always convincing. The movie is big on the butterfly effect (something as small as a butterfly bMr_Nobody_(film)eating its wings can have a profound effect somewhere, anywhere down the line) and is too heavy-handed with his theme. It did raise lots of mind-melting questions, which I always love, because they allow me to annoy the shit out of my husband at bedtime, when he’s just about to drop off into la-la land and I’m wide-eyed and salivating.

If there are infinite possibilities, which one is “real”? Or can anything be real? Which actions will have universal consequences? How will your past decisions, even seemingly miniscule ones, shape your future?

To help us distinguish between Nemo’s various lives, the time periods are colour coded, and shot in different countries with different styles and musical cues to point the way. Which still mr-nobody-mr-nobody-27-05-2009-1-gdoesn’t make it easy to contend with. The web is messy and tangled, and maybe that’s the point, but it still makes for difficult viewing. Each scene is a tiny cinematic event in and of itself, but sometimes it’s hard to imagine them as a whole. The narrative doesn’t always do its job holding things together, but Leto’s performance tries really hard to be up to the task, providing an emotional gooey centre to all of this philosophizing.

Director Jaco Van Dormael drops so many clues into his film that watching Mr. Nobody is like going on a treasure hunt. He may not always be sure of what he’s trying to say, but he’s ambitious nonetheless, and you’ve got to admire him for it.

21 thoughts on “Mr. Nobody

  1. Jay Post author

    While on a break from filming the Neanderthal scenes, Sarah Polley received a call informing her that a Toronto Star reporter had discovered that her biological father was not Michael Polley, but Montreal film producer Harry Gulkin, whom her mother had an affair with in 1978. Sarah, who had already discovered the truth herself, contacted the reporter and ran outside to a park bench in full make up and began crying as she convinced the reporter to sit on the story as she had not yet told Michael and wasn’t sure that she wanted to. The reporter agreed and afterwards, Sarah decided to create a documentary film about her mother and the events that led to her birth – Stories We Tell (2012).

    Liked by 3 people

  2. J.

    I’ve had this one kicking about the list for a while now, but have always overlooked it when settling down for a moviefilm. Don’t reckon I’ll overlook it much longer – sounds like a goody.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. filmfunkel

    Total side note: I’ve never held to infinite possibilities. Any choice we make other than what we’ve ever chosen makes us not us.

    One drop of ink on a napkin will take every possible path of expression simultaneously producing one unique shape (i.e. our life).

    An infinite number of different napkin gets an infinite number of different shape and if it’s different from us then it’s no longer us – imho.


  4. sweetarchive

    Never seen this one, but it actually sounds like something I’d like. I was never a Leto fan until Dallas Buyers Club which put a completely different light on him for me. Awesome review!!



    I really loved this movie too. It’s definitely not for everyone though. If you’re super nerdy and into philosophy or quantum physics there’s a lot to ponder. What a bold and daring film. Amazing visuals too. Leto delivers with a complex and internal performance. Thanks for spotlighting this indie gem, Jay! It’s destined for cult classic status.


  6. Nostra

    Happy to see you’ve seen this as it is one of my all time favourite films. I love the complexity and the concept of it.

    btw, there is a small typo in your article “tires really hard”



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