• Matt Miller

Movies you might’ve missed


Title: Mr. Nobody (2009)

Directed: Jaco Van Dormael

Genre: Science Fiction

Available on: Netflix

Brief Synopsis: Faced with an impossible decision, Nemo Nobody's life splits into infinite timelines, each with a different consequence for his decisions.

Aggregate Scores: 7.9 IMDb 66% Rotten Tomatoes

Review: Life is full of choices. Many of them are small and insignificant, like, "What shall I have for dinner" or, "What shirt should I wear today?" We make thousands of these a day and never give them a second thought. But not all choices are made equal. We can all immediately identify a moment in our lives where we made a decision that changed everything. For Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto), that moment was at nine years old at a train station, forced to choose between leaving on a train with his mother, or staying behind with his father. It is at that moment that Nemo's life splits off into infinite universes, with each passing decision drastically changing his future.

While any film with multiple timelines and time travel is confusing, Mr. Nobody makes those films feel as straightforward as an episode of Paw Patrol. We start in the future with Nemo at 118 years, whiz back to him before conception with angels, and splice this between his childhood and parents’ romance. This is just in the first 10 minutes, and will have most viewers reaching for the remote. However, this exercise in focus and patience is well worth it as the narrative begins to take shape. This is because while the multi-universe premise is sci-fi in nature, the heart of the film is about love and the wonders of life. Nemo leads many unique lives with different love interests, careers and families. It is a fascinating meditation on what our life choices have to do with our futures, and how life is both fixed and chaotic, both impervious to change and vulnerable to chance. As Nemo's futures twist and turn, each one finding a meaning or experiencing an untimely end, you appreciate or question the decisions you have made that have led you to this moment.

A vastly underappreciated film, Mr. Nobody is a curse of its own ambition. Simply watch the opening credits to see how many production companies had to come together to fund this distinctive movie. Belgian, Canadian, American, French, German and British producers and cast had to put money into this project for it to work, mostly because it was too conceptual for a single financial backer. While this freed director Van Dormael from the normal studio inhibitions, it also took away much of the advertisement and publicity that comes with funding from major studios. Ironically, Dormael's choice between artistic freedom and financial success mirrors his film. We will never know how Mr. Nobody would have turned out in this opposite universe, but if Nemo taught us anything, it is to appreciate your decisions and the life you have now.

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