Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mr. Nobody

By Sati. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , , ,
(141 min, 2009)
Director: Jaco Van Dormael
Writer: Jaco Van Dormael
Stars: Jared Leto, Sarah Polley and Diane Kruger
There is no life without you.

“We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end”
-Benjamin Disraeli

I found that movie by a complete accident – I was talking to my friend about studies and out of the blue she asked me if I saw it, I looked it upon internet and the concept of immortality was enough for me to be persuaded to see the film. But it turns out there is so much more to “Mr. Nobody”, it uses so many ideas, so many concepts, I'm pretty sure before writing anything about it I should see it again, but as it is an exhausting exercise - your mind is constantly trying to figure out the film's meaning, your eyes hungrily swallow all the beautiful visuals, I'm gonna try my best writing about it, despite having seen it only once.

The story is set in 2092 where an old man, Nemo tries to remember his life. And this is pretty much all you need to know – at that point if you have not seen the movie yet you should stop reading and go see it. Exploring this world is amazing – beginning with the future where what I always suspect would happen finally happened - the perpetual rejuvenation of telomeres was accomplished and thanks to that people don't age,don't die. My biggest regret in life and the dream that will never come true is that I was born too early and I wish I was born at least a century later. I believe science may just be our only savior and one day we won't get sick, grow old, die. I'm certain of that. And that is the future presented in the movie.

How Nemo, who is at that point 117 old got there we don't know. We just know that everyone around him don't age and he is the last mortal. That's why everyone is so curious about him. And they want to know more about his life, so Nemo starts to remember.

First we see the only time supernatural is involved in the movie. Little Nemo tells us that before we are born we know everything. And then angel touches us and we forget, after which we choose our parents. But the angel didn't touch Nemo so he has knowledge in him. He chooses his parents, sweet lovely couple, who unfortunately as it often happens in life separates.

The most important moment, key moment in the movie is the scene where Nemo is on the railway station and has to make a choice whether to live with his father or mother. It's important for a number of reasons – that scene shows how a little event can change entire outcome of our life – Nemo's shoe falls of and he is incapable of catching up with the train. So he stays with his father, he marries a girl who doesn't love him and depending on other choices he makes – he either loses his wife on wedding day or spends unhappy life with her. Had he caught up with the train he would love the woman of his life, either spending his life with her or just a little part of it. Another reason for the importance of the scene is the final conclusion that in that moment the boy dreams all of his alternative lives, including the old man in the future. He decided that if he doesn't make any choice he will grow old and have a chance for love. And the final reason is that this scene is the prelude of the split – we see different version's of Nemo's life.

1.He takes care of his dad, he meets Elise, who loves someone else – he is depressed and he gets into accident.
2.He takes care of his dad, Elise agrees to marry him, on the wedding day she dies, Nemo idealizes her, the wife he had for so few moments, and keeps his promise to spread her ashes on Mars / the story written by teen Nemo on the typewriter dealing with Mars travel
3.He takes care of his dad, Elise marries him and she is miserable throughout their marriage
4.He takes care of his dad, marries Jean instead and lives with her, not really loving her, miserable, bored so he impersonates someone else for fun and ends up dead.
5.He stays with his mom, loves Anna, who leaves and they they meet but Nemo loses her again
6.He stays with his mom, is rude to Anna, who years later marries someone else
7.He doesn't make a choice on the station, most likely ends up with his mom anyways or just approaches little Anna on the deck, loves Anna, they meet again, even though he loses her number she finds him again and they live happy together and Nemo lives till 2092.
and there are also other versions – eg. his parents never meeting and never falling in love.

“In a little while
I'll be gone
The moment's already passed
Yeah, it's gone “

The movie mentions superstring theory – in the world we know we have only 3 dimensions + time, but at the beginning there were more dimensions. Perhaps all these 7 versions of events are those dimensions, each being created when Nemo made a choice, or someone else made one. Infinite dimensions existing next to one another. That's one explanation. Other one is the imagination of a little boy. You can decide which one suits you better. (similarity to “Run Lola Run”)

Few of the versions have the same outcome, some of them cross paths – maybe it's a signal no matter what we do, certain things will always remain the same, maybe it's a sign that we can deviate from our way only a little and the universe will always correct this.

The film also employs the concept of the butterfly effect – one seemingly unimportant event can create a hurricane on the other side of the globe. The movie takes the concept literally it shows one little butterfly flattering its wings, then a leaf carried by the wind which causes Nemo's parents to meet and fall in love. The butterfly effect is used again to show happy love when little Nemo, the one who escaped the railway station sees a leaf which flies away, and then Anna and Nemo meet finally and they have their chance at love again. (similarity to “The Butterly Effect”)

There is also a nice scene portraying how behavior of somebody we will never know can influence our life – unemployed Brazilian's actions provoke the storm and rain washes away Anna's number from the card being held by Nemo (similarity to “Amelie” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”).

The 3 women in Nemo's life – he knew them all in his childhood. He used Jean to forget Elise and he never loved her, Elise didn't love him and her depression was caused by her passion to other man – man who many years later will walk to her hairdresser's salon, she will even cut his hair but she won't recognize him – he was much older and she kept dreaming about the young one, handsome one, as if the time stood still for her. The only woman who loved him and he loved back was Anna, daughter of his mother's lover.

He met her as a little boy, he used to watch her on the swimming pool. Years later it turns out her mother's boyfriend was her dad. They ended up being “siblings”, sneaking around, being happy, loving each other. But when Nemo's mother relationship falls apart, Nemo and Anna are separated. But they meet again in a beautiful sequence on the railway station. And hopefully they live their lives together. As a romantic I choose that.

Anna also appears in version 2, during the travel to Mars. She is a researcher studying the distance between Mars and Earth and calculating when the Big Crunch is going to happen (“one possible scenario for the ultimate fate of the universe, in which the metric expansion of space eventually reverses and the universe recollapses, ultimately ending as a black hole singularity.”). The old Nemo mentions that to lost Nemo, that if Anna's calculations are right that event will happen in 2092. So perhaps it is really the version 2 which was real and in the end of the movie everything starts to reverse and Nemo is brought back to the moment of choice on the railway station. Maybe all the versions happened. Is there a definite answer? Maybe. But what matters is that Nemo and Anna finally ended up together.

I read that many people object to the development of characters – that there is no way we can bond with them. I don't agree – we get to watch Nemo, the same Nemo, but in different realities for 150 minutes of the film – we get to see his dreams, likes, dislikes – we don't necessary need to like him but we definitely bond. Same with Anna, gorgeous and fascinating girl. And if somebody can't bond with the characters I still don't see the problem – the story is so universal – finding your true love, choices we make, “what if?” question – how can you not bond with that?

The film is visually stunning, it had fairly big budget for European production – 47 million, And when you watch it you feel as if it had more – Mars, world collapsing, the future, a lot of effects. The movie is beautifully looking and has many gorgeous shots, the cinematography is really stunning and the music is monumental – not only the original score but also a lot of additional music that fits the film perfectly.

The actors are well chosen – Jared Leto seems a bit lost, but he has many great moments and his unique looks fit the character of Nemo well, Sarah Polley and Diane Kruger, playing Ellise and older Anna are good, but the one who I asked the most is lovely Juno Temple (from “Atonement” and “The Other Boleyn Girl” playing younger Anna – it's a treat to see her on screen and she brings so much joy, life and happiness to her character.

The reason why I rated the movie 910 and not 10/10 is that in its third act “Mr. Nobody” disappoints a little. Maybe it's because it left so many things to theorize, open to interpretation. I like movies like that as long as there is a chance one day, when you watch the film for 2nd, 5th, 10th time you will finally put all the puzzles together – it is the most satisfying thing - when the movie seems whole. Here it seems as if the director deliberately (or not?) didn't give us all the puzzles. He gave us many methods of creating the whole picture – the superstring theory, the dream theory, the novel theory. And he left it to the viewer to decide. Either way this is one of the best movies I saw this year and it's a big shame it didn't even get a distributor in USA and is so little known. But if you have a chance – go and see it.


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