MRR Review: "Mr. Nobody"

Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

MRR Review: "Mr. Nobody"

Rating: R (for some sexuality/nudity, brief strong language, and violent images)
Length: 141 minutes
Release Date: November 1, 2013
Directed by: Jaco Van Dormael
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, and Romance

"Mr. Nobody" exemplifies brilliance in cinematography and performance. It's a philosophical sci-fi movie that revolves around memories, dreams, hope, choices, and destiny, among other themes. Since the movie screened as a special presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009, a lot of critics have raved about Leto's exceptional performance.
The movie initially premiered in Belgium and France in 2010 and was released in select theaters in the U.S. on November 1, 2013. The mind-boggling film has been critically acclaimed for the actors' exceptional performances and the breathtaking cinematography. Technically, the film was released back in 2009, being the English-language debut of renowned Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael (known for his movie "Toto the Hero"). Thanks to previous festival screenings and positive reviews, the movie's release in U.S. theaters has spread through word of mouth.

"Mr. Nobody" is about the muddled reminiscences of a 118-year-old man who's the last surviving mortal person in 2092. Jared Leto, who's also the lead singer of the band Thirty Seconds to Mars, plays the lead character, Nemo (a name that means "nobody" in Latin). The character appears in various life stages throughout the film, being portrayed by a different actor each time: at age nine by Thomas Byrne, at age fifteen by Tony Regbo, and finally at age 118 by Leto. Leto portrays the old character under a thick, believable mask and makeup. Nemo's aged version narrates the story to an inquisitive reporter (Daniel Mays) who interviews Nemo because the old man is known as the last living mortal human in a world where a technology called telemerization has spawned a quasi-immortal generation.

Director Van Dormael expressed his admiration for Leto's pure acting talent. Once Leto starts playing his character, he becomes so deeply immersed into the role that the audience won't see any trace of his original self. Leto intellectually manages to dissect a role without losing his spontaneity, and in "Mr. Nobody," he allows himself to be fully taken by his character.

More than a sci-fi movie, "Mr. Nobody" is an introspective and passionate exploration of the meaning of life. It delves into the universal sense that although life has gone and passed by, people still tend to dwell on the what-if scenarios, looking back and hanging on the hope that time could be reset and past decisions could be changed. It's about the essence of time and causality, and the wistful idea that different paths could possibly coexist. In Van Dormael's brilliant surrealist fantasy movie, it isn't the truth that propels Nemo to keep on living but his intricate lies.

"Mr. Nobody" invokes a feeling of empathy and curiosity that leaves audiences wondering about the infinite possibilities of life and the healing power of the human imagination.

Nemo shares his incoherent recollections of his past in a total disarray and contradiction. These jumbled memories may involve both real and imaginary events, which all seem to be related to major decisions that he made in his earlier years. "Mr. Nobody" doesn't simply focus on two alternative lives; it goes further and branches out into various paths that involve different occurrences in Nemo's life. Nonetheless, despite the seemingly complex structure of the film, it's not in the slightest bit a messy plot. Van Dormael impressively pulled off a cohesive, thoughtful, and gripping movie that leaves viewers pleasurably confounded.

There's also a hint of time travel as Nemo seems capable of rewinding time and correcting past mistakes. Interestingly, once Nemo becomes an adult, he splits into three unique versions of himself who exist simultaneously and have completely different wives.

The movie is also rich in romance. Although three different potential love interests appear in the movie, Nemo is ultimately in love with one person, Anna (Diane Kruger), although he marries two other women, Elise (Sarah Polley) and Jean (Linh-Dan Pham), as well. Leto and Kruger have an amazing chemistry onscreen. Leto also pairs well with Polley, who plays her bipolar and vulnerable character excellently, and Pham, who portrays a commendable performance as Leto's third wife. Parts of the romantic dialogue are cheesy in a good way, mainly because they sound sincere and natural.

The acting is undoubtedly superb. Every actor in the film shows a powerful performance that's quite convincing. The special effects are also creative, and Nemo's old-age makeup was quite well done too.

"Mr. Nobody" is an absorbing film that's worth seeing over and over again. It provides stunning visuals, outstanding acting, and skillful direction that many movie enthusiasts will certainly relish watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5