Published Sep 22, 2009Much like Robert Lepage's Possible Worlds, Vinterberg's It's All About Love and more recently, Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York (and an assortment of pretentious French films from the '60s), Mr. Nobody makes a lot more sense when described by intended feelings and concepts than by plot machinations.
Ostensibly, the narrative follows Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto) as a child, a teen, an adult and an old man, as he lives an assortment of different possible lives, married to different women in each, and suffering a variety of fates.
In one, he finds love with his stepsister Anna (Diane Kruger/Juno Temple), after choosing to follow his mother (Natasha Little) when she leaves his father (Rhys Ifans) for another man. In the life led with his father, he splinters lives based on choice defiance, marrying Elise (Sarah Polley) in one and Jeanne (Linh Dan Pham) in another. Time travel comes into play, as does a Mars expedition, a future of immortality and the occasional run in with death.
What is the meaning of all of this? Well, amongst the assortment of concepts presented the dominant is the fear of making decisions, given our innate dread of death. We are aware of entropy and time, knowing that the wrong decision could send us on a path less fortunate, but if we knew where each path would take us would it make the decisions we make any easier? The answer, according to Mr. Nobody, lies in the fact that we all eventually die anyways, no matter how hard we fight it.
Another dominant theme is that of romantic love, as, at its core, this little metaphysical gem is a sincere fable lacking self-consciousness, aware that we likely never get over our first true love, often coping through futile recreations or rejections of the concept. It melds these notions hypnotically, knowing when to jump between tones and stories, delivering top-notch aesthetics in every scene. Every image brims with a hyper-realized sense of wonder, making the film a feast for both the mind and eyes.
Anyone wary of a story that follows emotion rather than plot will surely be disappointed in Mr. Nobody, while others, keener on introspection, will find a powerful movie about what it means to be alive. (E1)