New To Blu: Mr. Nobody

After 5 long years, Mr. Nobody finally makes its way home to a U.S. blu-ray release.

"This new 30 Seconds To Mars
video kicks so much ass!!!"
“As long as you don't choose, anything is possible.” This profound statement succinctly encapsulates the theme of Jaco Van Dormael’s incredible reality-bending film Mr. Nobody.  Having a nonlinear film about love and quantum mechanics make sense and also be engaging to the casual viewer is no easy task. This film demands your undivided attention but richly rewards the individual who puts in the required effort.

Jared Leto is Nemo Nobody—a 118-year-old man living in a future where mankind has achieved immortality. Nemo is the last man on Earth to actually be dying of old age and is a celebrity to the local populous. He is interviewed by a reporter about his former life but the narrative takes unexpected routes and turns. There comes a time when a fork in the road in Nemo’s childhood results in him having to make a decision that impacts the rest of his life in infinite ways. Where this movie gets interesting is that it explores all the different situations that could have occurred in each choice scenario. 

Mr. Nobody operates under the theory of the universal wave function or many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Essentially, there are infinite parallel universes existing at the same time so there are versions of ourselves that have taken every possible route through our existence. This concept is made famous by the “Schrödinger's cat” experiment in which a cat simultaneously exists in two different states (alive and dead) if not actually physically observed. It sounds like a high concept for a film but Van Dormael handles it perfectly and it does not become overwhelming to the viewer.

"Ancient pervert man wants to
play peek-a-boo....."
It takes a good thirty minutes for the film to warm up and establish the narrative and I can see many people checking out before that point. Many different visual styles are used and it can seem chaotic at first. I personally found it completely mesmerizing. There are some soft sci-fi elements present and the CG is understated, sparse and elegant. Van Dormael uses color to separate all the different timelines and it’s a neat way to help the audience keep track of what is going on. Pierre Van Dormael provides an amazing score that adds a gravitas to many of the scenes. It’s just a gorgeous and sumptuous film to behold on every level.

This is one of Jared Leto’s best performances in recent memory. Since he has to play so many different
versions of himself he gets the chance to really stretch out and do different things. His weakest moments are when he is the old man (with adequate aging make-up) and I found it to be the least believable aspect of the movie. Luckily, it doesn’t linger too much in that time period and instead focuses on his younger versions, which is where it really shines. The side actors all put in commendable efforts and each one is integral to the cohesion of the storyline as they also have alternate versions of themselves. It’s a complex puzzle to be sure, but in the end all the pieces fit together where they should.

Rarely does a film throw itself fully into a complex concept like this and not come off as pretentious and incoherent. Jaco Van Dormael doesn’t assume that the viewers are idiots and makes no attempt to dumb the movie down or pander to them. If you want to see something extraordinary and have your mind blown, give this film a watch. However, please invest your full attention into it. You won’t regret it.

-Michelle Kisner