"Mr. Nobody" (original title) M/12 141 min  -  Drama | Fantasy | Romance  -  4 October 2012 (Portugal) 7,8 Your rating:   -/10   Ratings: 7,8/10 from 57.467 users    Reviews: 139 user | 80 critic A tale that spans different time zones of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Director: Jaco Van Dormael Writer: Jaco Van Dormael Stars: Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger | See full cast and crew

Watching Mr. Nobody I was assaulted by more feelings than I’m used to when watching a movie. In that department I can only compare it with Synecdoche, New York. I was in awe of parts of it, I became emotional in more scenes than my misguided manly self-image could take; I was surprised and confused; I felt both cheated and rewarded and I told myself, at least once out-loud “Oh, bulshit!”.

If you were one of the people who classified Inception as intelligent and complex prepare for getting your brain folded into a knot worthy of honors in Camp Ivanhoe. Jared Leto plays Nemo Nobody in four different dimensions/timelines. It’s hard to know which. Early in the story he has to decide whether he wants to stay with his father or leave with his mother for New York. This shattering moment splits the story in three. In one he goes with his mother and pursues love with one girl, in another he stays and the target for his affection is another, in another he is rejected by said girl and goes for girl C.

He becomes a different person in all of them and those stories ramify even further, with different pathways emerging and vanishing.

The fourth dimension is the old Nemo. 118 years old. Still played by Jared Leto. If it was the decision of the actor to play this character, someone should have vetoed it. He looks exactly like young Benjamin Button or old Robin Williams in a movie he played a robot with a heart. Most 70/80 year old actors with some make-up would do a better job. Back to the story. Old Nemo is the last of mortal humans. Everyone else seems to be getting their organs renewed from personal pet pigs. He lives in a cartoonish society that contrasts with the ones from his past, and dampens their sentiment by comparison. He is the trigger to the other three stories. Either talking to a psychiatrist covered with Maori tattoos on his face and skull or with a rogue journalist who escapes security to get a good story, he recollects contradictory stories of his past.

mr. nobody 1

It’s a cheap trick. An old men telling his tales from his death-bed or death-chair. A shaman making us wiser with advice better kept on Chinese cookie dough. Deleting this character could only improve the movie. Jaco Van Dormael (writer/director) must have felt that everything had to connect and that was one of his errors.

A leaf is both the beginning of a love story and the cause of a terrible accident. It’s a great connection that rewards the viewer. I felt smart and I suppose if you watched it, you did too. That leaf comes back as a symbol two or three more times and there’s no more reward. The magician should know when to leave the stage and Dormael overstayed his welcome in too many occasions. Everything seems to have to be connected but it doesn’t. This compulsiveness detracts from the beauty of the story by making it arithmetical.

He introduces the concept of Butterfly Effect, the idea of the Big Shrunk (idea that time will stop and start reversing), Eternalism (idea that all points in time are equally real, that reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5) and others that take too much time to explain. Nemo is made the host of a science program to shove some more information into the equation. Equation, that’s what part of the movie seems. Everything must fit, otherwise this metaphor of a simile won’t work as an analogy. Or something like that.

But then a scene comes and hits me in the gut. In spite of the overwrought set-up that makes me go “Oh, bulshit!” the movie still touches all my chords. Maybe my personal experiences make me a sucker for some of this scenes or maybe Mr. Nobody is the filmic equivalent of a competent hack psychic. They say relatively generic things that are relatable to everyone. No matter how skeptical you are, the skepticism stays at the door.

It’s hard to make someone feel such strong emotions without a proper set-up which makes me wonder how greater this movie could have been if the director had some more films under his belt and his delusions of grandeur were kept in check.

see also:

Stoker Review

Neo was the Bad guy

Gosling with Tattoos

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20 thoughts on “MONSIEUR NOBODY

  1. I think this movie is overrated, even without seeing Synecdoche New York (which I fully intend to, in the near future)… The only reason I would watch this again is for the beautiful colors and pretty faces (not Jared Leto’s who, in my opinion, is overrated)

    1. I watched Synecdoche once and I honestly didn’t get it. I need to re-watch it to see if I have the brains to get it or if it’s supposed to really make no sense.
      Mr. Nobody felt like a movie made by someone who had just this chance to make a movie, so he tried to put everything he had in it, so he put too much :/
      I can’t really say any bad things about Leto. I liked him here and in Requiem for a Dream, but I’m an awful actor evaluator. I don’t hate Kristin Stewart and I’m loving Matthew McConaughey 😀

      1. Indeed you are an awful actor evaluator hahaha. But against Matthew McConaughey I have nothing either. Jared Leto is a singer who does movies on a side. And the fact that he has a pretty face, brings in more female audience. I like Requiem for a Dream but he is not as talented as people claim he is. He always plays the same role. I don’t know if I’m right but I found in his character from Mr. Nobody, bits and pieces of Harry from Requiem. Maybe I’m wrong but unlike Brad Pitt who is also pretty but plays in different genres, Jared picks the movies where he’s this emo, depressed and dark character. That’s just my opinion.

      2. I really must improve that 😀 For me as long as the actor doesn’t botch it, I don’t really care that much. Even if it’s the performance of the century, if the movie doesn’t capture my attention in another way I still won’t watch it.
        And maybe it’s wrong to put Leto on a pedestal, but I honestly never heard much praise of him… And is he that pretty?! Doesn’t do anything for me xD And I prefer actors who know their limitations. Woody Allen will only play himself, for example and he’s great at it. Lee Marvin only played the villain and was perfect at it. I quite enjoy character actors.

      3. I do too… Sadly, Jared Leto isn’t one of them 😀 And I love good acting in movies. Even if a story is boring or drags for too long, a talented actor keeps you awake. Also, no matter how good the script is, with actors without talent , it would be a disaster for the viewer. Maybe I would’ve liked Twilight more if Kristen and Robert knew how to play 😀

      4. Sorry, but Robert de Niro and Meryl Streep wouldn’t make it watchable 😀
        And yeah, bad actors ruin a movie but good actors, at least for me, don’t save it. Righteous Kill had de Niro and Pacino and it sucked harder than a kid a Chupa Chups factory!
        And also, when you think about it, there was a director sawing them do that and he should have said something like… “No! Don’t do that.” I worked as intern in the set of the movie and I saw a good actress doing such an ugly overacting because that’s what the director wanted. The only scene I remember is Kristen sobbing like crazy and really overacting. It’s crazy that ever got in the final cut. And I’m by no means defending her, just saying it’s not ONLY the actors fault. 🙂

      1. I must rewatch this film. I seem to remember I rather liked it… but of course, actors who are “made older” with make-up who recollect stories of the past are always a bit weird.

      2. Yeah, it felt like a crutch. But I loved so much of the movie, that it really seemed a waste. And I have a huge crush on Juno Temple since I saw her on Killer Joe. And she’s very naked in this one. Her character is 15 but she was born in 89 like me so it’s not creepy, OK??

      3. She was about 18 when they made the movie. So ok, I’ll let this comment pass (otherwise I’d have to get in touch with the Portugese police again and tell them that not only you are a drug addict, but also a pedophile. I wonder how they would reimburse me for this little fact…)

      4. She was about 18 when they made the movie. So ok, I’ll let this comment pass (otherwise I’d have to get in touch with the Portugese police again and tell them that not only you are a drug addict, but also a pedophile. I wonder how they would reimburse me for this little fact…)

      5. haha, waw, I really can’t count, she was indeed a full-grown woman already, haha.
        If they’d give any good rewards, they wouldn’t give them to the criminal I believe.
        (Making a Gob reference when we’re talking about creepy stuff isn’t really the best idea 😉 )

      6. But it’s not creepy! Come on… 80 year old guys want 18 year old girls. 23 and 19 is not such a big difference… And now we’re both 23, so… Do I have your permission? :p

      7. I never thought of finding it creepy until you said she played a fifteen year old, haha. You brought it on yourself. But yes, you have my permission. And besides, age is only a number (unless the object of your love is younger than, let’s say, seventeen? Than it’s a bit creepy, maybe)
        Go for it!

      8. Now you’re the creepy one “Age is only a number” seems to be every child molester go-to response. And I’d say less than 18 is already creepy. When I think of how I was at that age maybe… Less than 22 is already creepy lol

      9. Haha, damn it. But it depends on the gap between the ages as well. If, for example, the girl is 17 and her boyfriend is 19, that’s not creepy (right?), but if her boyfriend is 45, well yeah, than it’s creepy. Some boys and girls are more mature than others. And let’s not forget the cliché (which is kind of true) that girls mature sooner than boys do.

      10. Two years I guess is OK, 28 not so much.
        And yeah, that’s true. I suppose most 17 year old girls are more mature than me… I’d still never date a highschooler! xD


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