Mr. Nobody is an R-rated 2009 sci-fi, drama and romance film directed by Jaco Van Dormael starring Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger and Linh Dan Pham. In short, Mr. Nobody is a gem. It’s wonderfully unique. It’s fantastic and complex. Not a lot people will like it, much less understand it. But for those who did understand it, wow, what a story! The theme in this film is about our actions and their repercusions. Cause and effect. It is visually stunning with beautiful close-up shots. Its soundtrack is beautiful and sets the mood just right. From lead singer of 30 Seconds To Mars to his Oscar-winning role in Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto is unique in all his activities and does a good job in this one. I was asked by someone if this film was better than n (whichever). I told that person that you cannot compare this to any film. It is however one where you have to pay close attention to, so if you enjoy those kinds, then you’re in for a very interesting ride with this one.
!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!
As complex and perhaps complicated to some people, the explanation to the film is actually simple. Nemo Nobody is a child found by The Daddy and The Mommy. Unlike all the other children being born into the world, Nemo’s mind wasn’t erased by the Angels of Oblivion so he still remembers and knows everything that will happen. So knowing everything all the time means that he’s experiencing not only this first life we see, but all the other parallel realities he’s in at that given time, moving forward with the expansion of the universe as is often mentioned. Which is why he often jumps from one reality to another or so it seems. At the end of the film, when Nemo stops and looks towards his mother leaving in the train, he wets himself having a prediction of the futures he will have if he went with his mother:
- Being a jerk to Anna at the lake by telling that her friends are idiots. From this action, he forever regrets his words and becomes alone in the future eventually seeing Anna at a train station with her kids.
- Telling Anna the truth at the lake of him not being able to swim. Anna sympathizes and stays with him. From that action, later on Anna’s father and Nemo’s mother move in together and the kids begin a secret affair. Two things can branch out from this:
- Anna and Nemo remain together forever, get married and have kids. Nemo is a tv show host who later drowns in a river when he hits a bird while driving, swerving off and crashing into the river.
- Anna’s father and Nemo’s mother separate and the kids go many years without seeing each other again. Years later, Nemo now a pool cleaner, they find each other but Anna is afraid to lose Nemo again so she needs to think. She gives him her number and tells him to call and meet her at their usual spot, by the lighthouse. It starts to rain and a single rain drop falls on the paper she wrote her number on, washing the ink off and forever losing her number. Nemo decides to wait for her every day by the lighthouse becoming homeless in the process.
Back to Nemo at the crossroads, he has another prediction of the futures he will have if he stayed with his father:
- At a school dance, Nemo falls in love with Elise. A few days later he goes to her house but sees her with her older boyfriend. He leaves frustrated and drives away on his motorcycle. He slips on a leaf and gets thrown into a tree putting him in a vegetative state. Although his senses still work, he is trapped in his paralyzed body. Through his accident his parents get back together. He imagines himself writing his travels to Mars story, visualizing himself writing on his typewriter.
- Nemo goes to Elise’s house and proclaims his feelings to her. She rejects him saying she loves her boyfriend Stefano who doesn’t love her. Nemo doesn’t stop assuring her of his feelings. Elise gives in and they get married. Two things can branch out from this:
- Just married, Nemo and Elise are in their car in traffic. A gas tanker in front of them explodes, killing Elise making Nemo a widower. He keeps his promise of spreading her ashes on Mars. After doing that, while getting ready to make the journey back to Earth, Nemo meets Anna but before they can engage more in conversation, their spacecraft is destroyed by meteorites.
— Alternatively, after the explosion Nemo works at the same tv show studio but instead of him, his assistant crashes and drowns in the river. At his assistant’s funeral, Nemo meets Anna who was married to his assistant and recognizes her.
- Nemo and Elise have three kids but an unhappy marriage due to Elise suffering from borderline personality disorder and depression. Despite his efforts in trying to save the marriage, Elise leaves him in search for her first love Stefano.
- Elise rejects Nemo. Nemo tells his father that he will marry the first girl he dances with at his school prom. He meets Jeanne and they dance. On their way back on his motorcycle, Nemo promises to marry her and become rich. Despite this all happening, he is bored with his life and Jeanne asks him if she still matters to him. He writes over all his possesions and wealth to her and their kids and leaves them. From there on he relies all his future actions on the flipping of a coin. At the airport, he pretends to be a passenger called Daniel Jones to a waiting chauffeur. In the hotel room, he gets an anxious phone call warning him and that he needs to leave. Nemo flips his coin and in the air its direction changes by the breeze from the open window landing on whichever side to make him stay. Nemo is shot by a hitman by mistake and his body is dumped in the forest.
- Nemo finds himself continuously waking up in a surrealistic world where everybody wears the same clothing and drives the same red car. In this world Nemo discovers various clues and information about his other lives, like Anna’s lost phone number for example. He finds an old broken house with a DVD player and a flat screen inside. On the DVD, is 118-year old Nemo conversating with the present Nemo. Older Nemo explains that the current younger Nemo doesn’t exist. He says that he is experiencing time in reverse and that Nemo must stay alive until 5:50 AM on 12 February 2092.
Before his death, Nemo tells the journalist that they don’t exist. They only exist within the imagination of a 9-year old boy forced to make an impossible choice. Trying to figure out which way to go and seeing all possible scenarios and their endings, Nemo makes an unexpected third choice, not making the choice at all. Nemo runs away from both his parents to an unknown future. He arrives at a forest, picks up a leaf and blows it into the wind. Decades later a similar leaf lands near a bench by the lighthouse where a homeless Nemo is sleeping. Anna shows up and they both embrace. This shows us that the third choice Nemo took, lead up to that moment with Anna and eventually to him being the last mortal, the old Nemo we see from the beginning.
The universe reaches its expanding end and begins to contract reversing time itself. Old Nemo laughs while going in reverse, realizing his younger self found Anna, his true love, and that that was his true life. The film ends with all his lives going in reverse and the last scene we see is of the younger versions of Anna and Nemo throwing rocks into the lake.
For me it would be hard to tell the writers and director how much I liked the film. Words cannot express the feeling. I think a 10-minute standing ovation would do it.
Thanks for reading my review!
– Nick Andersen