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Film Critics: Today, December 13, winners from Dallas ForthWorthFCA, ChicagoFCA and Film Comment Magazine. Nominations from HoustonFCS, PhoenixCC. PhoenixFCS.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mr. Nobody


Sometimes I make really bad decisions. Deciding to skip this film was one of them. I don't like the genre (fantasy/sci-fi), cast -especially lead- did not appeal me and most confusing, an European/Canadian production in English. So I forgot about it even when film did quite good in the 2009/2010 festival season. Big mistake.

This Jaco Van Dormael film is visually stunning, excellent production values, especially fabulous special effects; but what really blew my mind was the story. Then story is told with nonlinear narrative so well-told that have to mention the outstanding editing, that in my opinion and in this case, absolutely facilitates "understanding" the evident plus the not-so-evident chaotic story. Yes movie and story is chaos, fantastic, beautiful-to-watch, engaging and food-for-thought chaos. Last, is impossible not to notice the fabulous soundtrack with recognizable songs/music placed at the right moments to ease all the turbulence you're watching. Bravo! Truly an out of the ordinary cinematic experience.

So after pouring out praise for the movie as a movie let's plunge into the outstanding story written also by Jaco Van Dormael. One word of advice, if you have not seen the movie please stop reading as what follows has inevitable spoilers.

The evident story -told here in a linear way, which is NOT how you will see it in film- is about Nemo, who as a boy has to make a hard choice, a choice that allows the filmmaker to explore two different outcomes. One storyline follows Nemo going with his mother, in the other he stayed with his father. Then no matter the path he follows, narrative is anchored in how Nemo interacts with three women: Anna, Elise and Jean. Add that story spans for about 118 years as "ends" in the year 2092 where the "last mortal" is about to die in live television, which is actually the beginning of the movie and story, where a very old man called Mr. Nobody (Jared Leto) -he doesn't remember his name- tells his story to a reporter. So by now you can say that this story is about parallel lives and is all about choices as in each of the two paths you will find more choices that will split story further. Confused? As far as I read, many viewers stay with this story and end up confused; nevertheless, I found this story fascinating as also is peppered with young Nemo fantasy hammered into an old typewriter while you're able to see it portrayed in the screen. One of the few movies where I find "evident" story to be as good, complete, sufficient and fascinating as the "other" story.

But to me what makes film and story outstanding is that this complex story goes well-beyond the choices/consequences and parallel lives themes. There are a few films that have explored one or the two themes and perhaps one of the best choices-theme film is Tom Tykwer's Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run) while Peter Howitt's Sliding Doors represents well the parallel lives theme. Also and even if film is about dreams I believe that Christopher Nolan's Inception not only looks and feels like this movie but also shyly travels similar themes. But what distances Van Dormael film and story from these and other similar movies is that story is deeply rooted in science. So, if you recall (or as a recall-aid pay particular attention to one adult Nemo) your knowledge about several real mathematics, time, and more theories, film story not only uncovers more dimensions but becomes eerie, unsettling and well, philosophical. Then, for me, movie and story transforms from fantasy into possible reality. Amazing and absolutely out of the ordinary. I simply LOVE what I call the "other" story and definitively the merging of both stories makes film quite an intense emotional, yet very brainy, playful ride, being playful the key word.

I could write pages about story and movie production values, but is enough to give a brief idea of how impressive is Van Dormael imagination as a writer but also as a filmmaker that so successfully and amazingly dealt with such a complex story.

Casting and performances are also outstanding and surely is the best I have seen from Jared Leto; but young and adult actors perform quite well as they disappear into their roles and do not interrupt narrative flowing; well, there is one exception. Sarah Polley's character and role perhaps is the most disturbing with her bipolar disorder and she makes it more disturbing with her performance, she's really good performing disturbing characters. Polley (adult Elise) in the screen was the only character that for me interrupted the amazing narrative but was a positive yet disturbing interruption. Kudos to Toby Regbo (Nemo age 15), Juno Temple (Anna age 15), Rhys Ifans (Father Nemo) and less impressed but was good casting, Diane Kruger (Anna adult).

Obviously I recommend movie but not sure if general audiences will enjoy it as this movie first and foremost is an European production with a style that mixes successfully a few European non-commercial styles plus a bit of American commercial style. So if you haven't seen movie yet because you decided to skip it, like I did, suggest you contemplate watching and maybe you will be as surprised as I was.

Big Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

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