Mr. Nobody, starring Jared Leto and Diane Kruger is something of a rarity, in that even when you have little idea about what exactly is going on, it’s still very much enjoyable.
It was one of my main criticisms of Christopher Nolan’s Inception – not enough people understood it. Yet for all its special effects, Inception lacked the emotion and character which are deep-rooted within the story of Mr. Nobody. Writer and director Jaco Van Dormael (read our interview with him here) is easily forgiven for his slightly over-ambitious script in light of this film’s stunning portrayal of the consequence of chance. It’s a complex subject matter, and thus a complex film, but one which he manages to deliver with such style and panache that, even when the plot has you foxed, it’s easy enough to simply sit back and watch these beautifully executed parallel worlds unfold before you.
The film follows the story, or rather stories, of the last mortal left on earth, Nemo Nobody, as he attempts to recount his life to a journalist. However, it’s never quite that simple. The consequences of his decisions – particularly those made at the ages of nine, fifteen and thirty-four – offer three alternative life paths, all of which seemingly exist within this film’s scattered narrative; a plot which, perhaps inevitably, touches on concepts such as Chaos theory and the Butterfly effect.
Of course, Jared Leto steals the show, as he often seems to within his carefully chosen selection of film roles. There’s little doubt that Mr. Nobody is the perfect vehicle for his versatile talents as an actor, although he is very nearly upstaged by 20-year old Juno Temple, who is absolutely enchanting as the teenage Anna. In fact, with perhaps just one or two exceptions, the child actors who carry much of Mr. Nobody’s back-story are just as captivating as some of this film’s bigger names.
While there are many innovative elements to this film’s narrative, Mr. Nobody borrows considerably from some of the best films of the last ten years. On the plus side, they seem to be tastefully chosen influences: French favourite Amélie, the time-bending Curious Case of Benjamin Button and the strange realities of Vanilla Sky, combined with the inquisitive nature of The Truman Show and even the innocent romance found in Baz Lurman’s Romeo and Juliet. Yet there will always be something slightly less impressive about seeing these components the second time around, and this is perhaps one of the only aspects of this film which may disappoint.
That said, Mr. Nobody remains unusual in its ability to keep you thinking about the plot long after the credits have rolled. Yes, there is relatively little closure when it comes to our hero’s fate, but there’s certainly something refreshing about the fact that such decisions are entrusted to the audience’s imagination. The narrative of this film is handled with such precision that its moments of ambiguity never come across as carelessly vague, but rather as areas in which you are likely to discover new meanings within each subsequent viewing.
Read our interview with Jaco Van Dormael here.
Mr. Nobody is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.