Top positive review
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"Every path is the right path".
on 20 January 2012
In the future, advances in biological science have led to constant cellular regeneration - humans live forever. But residing in hospital is Nemo Nobody, a man of unknown identity who happens to be the last mortal, the last old man on Earth - the final person who could have a natural death. Or so it seems....
This non-linear film explores Nemo's life as it would have been had he made different choices and you're never quite sure which are the ones he did actually make - if any. For instance, if he'd chosen to live with his mother when his parents split up then at 15 he'd be enjoying his first love, alternatively he could be living with his dad having to undress and bathe his disabled father. The different choices in life lead to massive tangents with wildly varying circumstances - but some themes remain common throughout and echoes of his 'other lives' can be heard no matter which path he has taken. This is a dreamlike fantasy with some Sci-Fi elements which is difficult to comprehend to start with, but from the jumble, specific plot narratives start to emerge as lose threads begin to string together into individual stories. The different narratives develop their own involved and very personal tales which don't just depict the events of Nemo's alternate lives but explore the emotional aspects, from dealing with a family being torn apart by depression to losing the love of your life because of a raindrop - Mr Nobody is often an emotive and powerful film.
There are some fantastic performances here particularly from the younger talent whose angst is completely convincing, their portrayal along with the more 'serious' scenes help the characters feel authentic in each timeline and make this surreal film feel very grounded in reality. Mr Nobody contains one of the best realisations of a future society that I've seen in a film. It's a glossy white future but the city has a familiar form, the depiction of the media looks like a natural progression of our current TV with interactivity and low-brow programming dominating the schedules. Mr Nobody benefits from some of the most creative directorial flair I've seen for a while, though it has a primarily American cast it feels like a European film and Jaco Van Dormael clearly hasn't pandered to mainstream audiences by toning down his whimsical approach to telling stories.
You'd expect a film which is fairly obscure compared to mainstream titles, to have a Blu-Ray transfer which simply "does the job" - but no, the picture here is rich with texture and the colours are lively. Skin and hair looks incredibly detailed and some scenes really stand out as looking superb - a moment when water droplets are on a car windscreen reminds you what high definition can offer over standard DVD. Due to the fairytale-esque nature of the film there are varying colour themes and some inventive directing which never look anything less than excellent. Where CGI is used (to create a futuristic city, for instance) it fits in with the look of the film and doesn't look out of place. There's a 'making of' documentary on the disk which shows some of the efforts which went into such an ambitious film, running at just over three quarters of an hour it covers most aspects.
In a nutshell: A challenging film which many will find inaccessible. For those who do feel immersed in Nemo Nobody's tale of a bygone time when people got sick, drove cars, and even had sex - it's an experience you're unlikely to forget. The film is perhaps guilty of relying too much on ambiguity, especially towards the end - but the stories within stories are often beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking. The film is given a Blu-Ray release which shows the film off gloriously, during the times when you're figuring out what you're seeing - it'll look superb.