Often a film is incorrectly labeled as ‘science fiction’. Often that happens because the film transcends genres, but has some high-tech stuff as well. Often it’s because nobody can tell what genre the movie is supposed to be. Often it’s because nobody knows what the hell is going on. Welcome to Mr. Nobody.
Nemo Nobody is the world’s oldest person and the last mortal to die. As part of the future’s fascination with this fellow, he is being interviewed by a doctor to find out who he is. But it is not that simple. Nemo appears to remember a lot – more than he has actually lived. You see, Nemo knows the future and in his old age appears to remember every possibility his life could have taken. Or maybe it did take every possibility and he remembers it all.
Time travel movies are already a breed on their own, inviting a tolerance for convolution and plot holes that would otherwise make fans holler with rage. Basically, you can get away with a lot if you employ a bit of temporal instability. But usually it involves a time machine and duplicate copies of a person who may or may not be allowed to meet each other. Mr. Nobody doesn’t travel in time, but the dimensions of time. We’re all familiar with the theory that every choice you make actually causes two different realities to branch from there. This is Mr. Nobody’s turf.
At the end of the film all is explained – sort of. In fact, it makes it worth re-watching the film, because this tiny bit of knowledge changes how you regard Nemo Nobody’s recollections. It also raises questions about destiny, fate and true love. It asks if we really have any say in our lives. And it even taps that old David Hume paradox: how do you know what exists is actually real? That Mr. Nobody also has plenty of visual candy and excellent performances from great actors makes it even more of a treat. So even if you don’t get it, you’ll enjoy the ride. And you can still recommend Mr. Nobody to others, because they’ll think you’re some kind of great thinker without you needing to explain any of it. This column certainly didn’t and yet it looks smarter already…
Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies.
Last Updated: August 12, 2013