Published Aug 01, 2004Have you ever sat around, whether alone and feeling existential, or with a group of inebriated friends, and wondered what might happen if the physical world all around you was a construct capable of disappearing on a whim? Apparently Vincenzo Natali has and he even decided to develop an entire screenplay on this deeply philosophical concept way back before his 1997 debut feature, Cube, another stretch of an idea with bad acting and flashy effects that became a cult box office hit and established him as an emerging filmmaker in Canadian cinema.
After a rather undramatically surreal setup day in which Dave (David Hewlett) is framed for corporate embezzlement by his girlfriend Sara (an out of place and horribly dialogued Marie-Josée Croze) and his ten-year roommate Andrew (Andrew Miller) is accused of some degree of sexual assault on a girl guide, both long time (21 years) friends decide to barricade themselves inside while they're assaulted the house is even scheduled for last minute demolition by the outside world.
When these two devout videogame loving losers wake the next day they must face their deepest wish: the virtual banishment of the world to a blank white void that surrounds their trashy, fratty house. Missing the fresh combination of fear and curiosity inherent in such an overwhelming turn of events, inside the new void the comic potential falls flat as Dave and Andrew intensely confront each other, making various objects (including drama) disappear.
Ultimately nothing about Nothing feels spontaneous or even whimsical, as the tone especially in a kid-drawn crayon animation sequence explaining Andrew's agoraphobic-inducing past (that badly rips off Wes Anderson) flips between vindication and awkward action while too tightly tethered to the overly dominant special effects.
Essentially Nothing simply extends the black hole created by recent big-budget Canadian productions helmed by supposedly emerging directors (Bill Phillip's inept six-million dollar Foolproof and Deepa Mehta's tone-deaf Hollywood/Bollywood) who employ mere establishing shots to project a backdrop of Toronto, actually situating the film within an unaffecting space disconnected from a grounded existence.
And while part of Nothing's point is supposedly the in-joke that viewers be warned the film is called Nothing, it's one of the film's fastest dying jokes, not to mention the cheapest way of selling a film that has no valuable content. Nothing is definitely not something worth seeing. (Alliance Atlantis)