Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto) wakes up one morning to discover that he is not the same 34 year-old man he was when he went to sleep. The year is now 2092 and, at age 117, Nemo is the oldest living mortal in a futuristic world where nobody can die. As the world watches Nemo Nobody’s last days play out on television, Nemo spends his final hours reflecting on the key moments of his life. One of those life altering events surrounds the separation of his parents (Rhys Ifans and Natasha Little). Whichever parent Nemo chooses to live with will have major impact on his future relationships with three distinct women. There is Anna (Diane Kruger) who may, or may not, be his true soul mate; Elise (Sarah Polley) who is haunted by a lost love; and Jean (Linh Dan Pham) the one whose love Nemo may not fully reciprocate. Each choice in Nemo’s life comes with its own pros and cons; so in order to dictate his future Nemo will need to learn how to change the past.
Written and directed by Jaco Van Dormael, Mr. Nobody is a film where the lines between reality and fiction are often blurred. Is Nemo telling us the whole truth? Can he remember what the truth is anymore? Does truth even exist in a world that is changeable? These are just a few of the numerous questions that will cross your mind when viewing the film. If you are hoping that Dormael’s complex script will provide answers then you will be disappointed. Jaco Van Dormael is only interested in planting the questions in your mind and providing you with the tools to formulate your own answers. The script incorporates references to almost every school of thought known to man. This includes such things as string theory, the butterfly effect, the Big Crunch, entropy, etc. Needless to say Mr. Nobody is a film that begs for repeat viewing in order to grasp all the various philosophical and scientific thoughts that are in play.
Mr. Nobody is far from a linear tale. It bounces back and forth between time and in and out of alternate realities. Yet despite all of the craziness the film still remains quite captivating. At its heart, Mr. Nobody is essentially about love and the random moments in life that might not be so random. A lot of credit must go to the cast who help maintain a certain level of calm amongst all of the eccentricities that surround the film.
Jared Leto does a wonderful job as both the 34 and 117 year-old versions of Nemo Nobody. Frankly I cannot remember the last time Leto showed off his range as an actor this well. I would also like to highlight the exceptional work of both Toby Regbo and Juno Temple. They practically steal the film while playing 16 year-old Nemo and 15 year-old Anna respectively. So much of the film relies on the audience believing in Nemo and Anna’s relationship at this age; and neither actor disappoints.
If there is one complaint to make about Mr. Nobody it is that Jaco Van Dormael spends too much time on the teenage years of Nemo’s life. The pacing of the film really slows down in the middle as Dormael seems to hit the same note, regarding Nemo and Anna’s teenage romance, repeatedly. Dormael clearly establishes that both characters really love each other at that age, so it is perplexing why he would keeping going over this point when there is so much else going on in the film? Still, despite the slow middle section, Mr. Nobody is one of the films that will stick with you long after it is done. The film is challenging, confusing, witty, mesmerizing and definitely original. Mr. Nobody is one of the better, if not most maddening, films you will see this year.