Mr. Nobody Is Certainly Somebody To Us

After a 13 year hiatus from filmmaking Jaco Van Dormael has created in Mr. Nobody the most perfect vision of string theory.  Creating a film about every possible outcome of every possible choice and each of their timelines takes either a brilliant mind or one completely mad, and the jury's still out on Dormael.  Either way this film is breathtaking.  The soundtrack, editing, and cinematography are all mixed so well that the film itself seems to spring from the fourth dimension itself.

We are given fragments of the past, present, and future of Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto).  In the beginning these fates clash together in something astonishing yet unrecognizable, but by the middle of the film the viewer begins to understand how all of these pieces fit together.  Our future Nemo, an old man on the verge of his 118th birthday in a society where everyone is immortal recounts his full life but the memories are not of one distinct timeline but multiple ones, as though he is able to see all the possible lives he led with each choice he was forced to make and now on his deathbed is recreating his memory with the best lived life.  

Nemo's first and most significant choice at the age of 9 is to decide whether to live with his mother (Natasha Little) or his father (Rhys Ifans), from here his life splinters off in two main paths.  Living with his father he is immersed in science fiction writing while taking care of his invalid father.  Here he meets Anna and Jean - two future wives and very different lives.  With Anna he is miserable due to her mental illness - this Anna is played to perfection by Sarah Polly.  With Jean he has soulless wealth and gets shot by an assassin.  On the other parallel living with his mother, Nemo meets Elise who quickly becomes his great love and step-sister but their love can never sustain due to the world around them.  It is the choice of the aged Nemo to find his better life through all of the possible choices he could make.  A line from the 9 year old Nemo is repeated through the film: "You have to make the right choice.  As long as you don't choose, everything remains possible."

Albert Einstein first came up with the theory of alternate dimensions with the cause and effect clause which stated: Every thought is played out in another universe, thus the universe is expanding, without thought, the universe condenses and closes in on itself.  So, an inactive choice - the 9 year old Nemo not choosing - causes the universe to condense.  We see the end of the world through the inability to choose for oneself and coupled with the inevitability of death: choice is the only reality we have.  Life is walking toward the precipice of a great abattoir and every time we thoughtfully decide to act we dance with the hole - these actions sustain us as we sway forward and away from death.  It is in this dance that we feel alive and without decision there is only the forward momentum to our demise.  These alternate realities created by our possibilities are comforting, though we do not have the ability to see their outcomes as the 9 year old Nemo does it just reaffirms the power of choice that we have within our own lives.

If you get a chance to see Mr. Nobody go for it.  It is definitely a more intellectual film and for some it may cause nightmares.  It sinks into your unconscious and forces you to question the choices and actions you've taken in your own life.



  1. You mixed up Anna and Elise. Also he wasn't miserable with Elise (the crazy one). He actually loved her deeply even though she didn't feel the same way.


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