“If you never make a choice, anything is possible.”
Writer-director Jaco Van Dormael‘s MR NOBODY (2009) is an overall cryptic puzzle of a movie that is a passionate and introspective sci-fi romance that features Jared Leto as the last “mortal” man on Earth, Nemo Nobody. Nemo is the star of a modern game where the “immortal” community decides whether or not to allow Nemo additional years–or let nature take its course. Unbeknownst to the rest of the eternal community–Nemo has planned all his own, and it has a lot to do with not making the right choices of his past. Being a “Mr. Nobody,” affords him the unique opportunity to do just that.
At 118, Nemo can recall and comprehend several of his lifetimes at once. As a young boy, Nemo had to make the difficult choice between living with his mother or his father. We watch as he is the young son sometimes of his father (Rhys Ifans) and mother (Natasha Little). Then on to a more passionate 15-year-old (Toby Regbo) Nemo as he has an on and off again relationship with young “Anna,” (Juno Temple), and later (Diane Kruger). In another reality, Nemo falls for “Elise” (Clare Stone), and later (Sarah Polley) who either dies after marriage or suffer from clinical depression. In another lifetime, Nemo misfortunes in love with “Jean” (Audrey Giacomini) and later (Linh-Dan Pham). Much later in the film, Nemo is off to repopulate Mars when an unfortunate catastrophe cut short another romantic opportunity with “Anna” (Kruger).
The cinematography is astounding. However, this sci-fi romance too often finds itself on the precipice of intense viewer involvement to stumble along this busy, futuristic melodrama, where Nemo meets his end more than one exception or another.
This is an intensely absorbing, and at times distracting tale, Nemo’s multiple-life journey through love and opportunity rest in a deluge of flashbacks teeming with good intentions. Writer/director Van Dormael’s “Nobody” eventually resolves as a complex mix of several films going all at once. Had the director focused his remarkable talent into just one of Nemo’s journeys, perhaps the film could have been a futuristic Titanic (1997) reimagined. The scientific musings of an 118-year-old in an existential crisis is fascinating but often hard to determine as Nemo ponders one reality, over another.
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