Netflix Picks: Mr. Nobody (2009)
by Carly Booth | published Oct. 1st, 2014
4.5 / 5 Stars
Normally, movies can encompass more than one genre, but they can easily be labelled (romantic comedy, Sci-Fi, thriller, etc). Mr. Nobody is one of those rare occasions where I am so stupefied by what I just saw, I cannot put a label on it. In fact, this film’s TV Tropes page even calls it “unclassifiable.” Call it what you will, Mr. Nobody is a beautiful, strange contemplation of life, and it blends so many genres into one that there is undoubtedly something for everyone in it.
In the year 2092, the human race has achieved quasi-immortality thanks to technological advances. 118-year-old Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto) is the last mortal on Earth, telling his life story to a journalist as he dies. Cut way back to when Nemo is only 9 years old. His parents are splitting up, and little Nemo is faced with a difficult decision: he can either stay with his father (Rhys Ifans) or leave on the train with his mother (Natasha Little). The consequences of each decision play out in two vignettes, “Life with Mother” and “Life with Father.” Within each vignette, Nemo is also confronted with three possible wives: Anna (Diane Kruger), Elise (Sarah Polley) and Jeanne (Linh-Dan Pham), and his lives with each of them play out in similar fashions.
Mr. Nobody is a heavily philosophical film, dealing with the power of choice. In just under two and a half hours, we see how different Nemo’s life is depending on whether he chooses to go with his mother or stay with his father. It could also pose the question of whether immortality is really worth it. In 2092, the human race is immortal, but 118-year-old Nemo complains about many things lacking in the future. Take this exchange between old Nemo and the journalist:
Journalist: Do you remember what the world was like before quasi-immortality? What was it like when humans were mortals?
Nemo: There were cars that polluted. We smoked cigarettes. We ate meat. We did everything we can't do in this dump and it was wonderful! Most of the time nothing happened... like a French movie.
Journalist: And, um, sexually? Before sex became obsolete.
Nemo: Ha, ha! We screwed! Everybody was always screwing. We fell in love... we fell in love.
It’s also a pretty morbid film in spots, as it deals with the death of the universe. Just know that you will be changed by the time the credits start rolling, and you won’t stop thinking about it for quite a while afterwards.
Love it or hate it, what is there to say about this movie than that it’s positively mind-boggling? Jared Leto gives a devoted performance as both 34-year-old Nemo and 118-year-old Nemo, and that transformation from 34 to 118 is nothing short of astounding. Leto, who won an Oscar this year for his portrayal of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, has always been an actor to be reckoned with, and Mr. Nobody is no exception. In fact, it's a mystery why Leto didn't get that much love for this role. He’s a committed actor and plays his parts with loads of pathos. The supporting cast is also great, especially Sarah Polley as Nemo’s volatile wife Elise. And for the cinema junkies, there is some gorgeous cinematography and visual effects.
The only possible drawback to Mr. Nobody is its 140-minute run time, and if you are a super-busy college student like myself, it may take you more than one day to watch it. With that said, it’s without question a complicated film. The nonlinear narrative, multiple story-lines and philosophical themes are difficult to keep up with – but, in the end, oh so worth it.