Magazine : Kino Świat, author: Agnieszka Opyt


Rain drop falling from sky into held in hand paper with phone number. The bird is died on fast running car’s pane. Unemployed craftsman, ex- employee of Chinese company which makes a jeans, boils an egg. Everything have consequences, you know: every action make reaction, but without exaggerate. In Jaco van Dormael’s film is no lack of exaggerate, famous butterfly effect is really rewrite in hundred ways and drive into absurdity here. Mentioned rain drop breaks the phone number to lover spectacular, become tomb of love, beginning of madness and homeless. The bird causes spectacular, deadly accident, where dying driver: dear father, dear husband. Egg- egg is beginning of drama too.

Man (always the same): a) is going out of home on suburb (suburbs dreaming about violence), empty out the petrol from red petrol can on stood on driveway car and then set it on fire; b) is flying to Mars in organic cocoon, where he intend to spill ashes of his lover, but before this he died in space crash; c) in dark, humid grotto, clothed like prehistoric man, is trying to frighten away the bear by scream; d) is looming from bath in luxury hotel and die from bullet, which hit him in heart. On this perhaps I’m ending this count, which is able to last and last. Mr. Nobody bending from this kind of pictures- thunderflashes, spectacular micro- scene, loud, but rather harmless. Always something in these must surprises: pattern on a sweater, which becoming pattern of whole world; colour, which flooding action shot; unnatural zoom, which pulling out detail from grey background; huge shoe, bigger than house, which attacking world and questioning its authenticity. This over two hours movie is veritable avalanche of ideas, patents, borrows. And, in fact, that’s all. This is work total: movie about everything made by omnivorous artist. However art- at least it’s seems to me- is skill in choose, selection. Belgian artist behaves, unfortunately, like his character, who in one moment evoking chess’ concept zugzwang, what means situation, where every move only makes player’s situation worse. Unconclusive variantity- shouldn’t it be a name of kind of film, where artist resigns from possibility of relating his story, and instead of this he only playing with potential solutions? However different question seems to be more important: What’s on about in this all? Does Jaco Van Dormael announce end of great narration or maybe absolutite movie itself, making from this an artifact with autoreflexive and autoreferencesive possibilities? Or maybe just making apology of accident or suggesting that only way for film is changing into computer game, where receiver make a decision about walk to the right or left? In this all can see odd huge malaise.

Critics, who write about Mr. Nobody, take notice to inspirations, quotes, whose is so many in movie. They give titles: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, „The Fountain”, „Memento”, “Amelie”, “Matrix”. At last actually can say, that Van Dormael takes inspiration from this films. But however it’s not certain and in fact doesn’t mean anything. One inspiration is however palpable and key. The Polish should be proud: “Mr. Nobody” owe the most to Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Blind Chance”. But near this looks- I use my favorite comparison- like kayak near Dar Pomorza. Nemo Nobody resembles Witek Długosz in nothing anyway. At first: is alive, don’t die in a plane. In 2029 is 120 and is last mortal man on Earth, Earth, where at the end of 21st century walking only immortal. Cameras record slow dying of Nemo, and he talking about his life where key moment was one crazy run at railway station. Similarly to Witek, one time he catch a train, other time not, what of course changing his life every time. Difference is, that accident at Kieślowski’s had destiny’s weight, thrusts a character to way, where he can’t move out from, can’t question it, was impulse, beginning of something bigger and didn’t cancel later choices, never alienate him from world and order him to aim with roles, which society enforce to the individual. Instead at Belgian’s one chance makes next, one variant splits to the different variants, and because of this everything in Nemo’s life, in his story is so little important and have so little meaning. Mister Nobody, who is played by Jared Leto, is artificial and imponderable creature, alien, whose don’t concern even such basic things like gravitation or passage of time and its irrevocability.

Van Dormael still trying to conjure reality, suggesting that is different. Really, everything what his character experiencing is extreme, close to ideal, pure- real romantic love, real huge loneliness, real overpowery boring and real irrevocable old age, however in the same time is empty, figure-outing, unauthentic, last to short, has no chance to grow, to steeped in the world. What’s more, movie, what in fact saying about the same about what have said fox in von Trier’s “Antichrist”, it’s mean: chaos rules, in fact can’t be a story about real love. That’s because in the world, where rules chaos, is no truth, no ideas, are only words, what’s an effect of social agreement, nothing more.

Watching “Mr. Nobody” looks like observing someone, who come into your room and starting to play with light switch. One time switch on a light, then switch off, and that without end. Very irritating play (especially for these, who can only observe this). I think that at first, Jaco van Dormael should answer himself on the question, does in the world where reputedly rules chaos, is still sense to make a films at all. It seems to me, that, paraphrase Lech Janerka, in Belgian’s work just sense is rather concave.


Choice is a kind of borderline experience, which is in connection with strict definite consequences. This is what director of “Mr. Nobody” seem to show, when makes a character from man, who depending of making choices makes himself. Nemo (character, who is played by Jared Leto) get existential experiences: choosing parents, only for deciding in a few years which parent he want to spend rest of his life with. Starting point in this movie is phenomenon and nature of humanity. Jaco van Dormael makes a vision of world of future, but in the same time is ironic and making an objections about conviction, that mechanizity reality comes to more ideal forms. Viewer can observes the world, what stepping in a new phase of its exist- from, we calling it, chaotic diversity to sterile order, where unification of every exist form make fears (conceptional affinity with Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” is uninccidentally here). Nemo is the last real mortal man, therefore he becoming an object of examinations, and his upcoming end of life growing to medial event’s rank.

Artistic operation, which putting straight construction of the movie is repetition, what has extra tasks. Because way of mentioning is a way to acquiring new knowledge and experiences. Film shows, how form of human’s life is dependent on choices that he makes. Cause of evolution of incidents is sequence of some- at first sight not so much important- accidents (for example fact, that shoestring in Nemo’s shoe was no so much strong and its broken when Nemo chased after leaving train made changing of all his future life), as a result of these fortune of main character compounding in different ways. Such complicated dramatic structure seems to establish to philosophic reflections of Soren Kierkegaard, who treated repetition as central existential experience. Every variants of repetitions in movie can regard as some kind of recognition form which is given from possibility of new look. World is mosaic made from details- is enough to little changing of their configuration and life gaining a new form, what we see when observing history of Mr. Nobody. In minute things, saying words, gesture, is some kind of mystery. Fact, which on the first look is petty, can turn out to decisive. Dormael’s film give many-meaning character’s portrait, and because of it the referenced character of dramatic structure becomes secondary case and the metaphorical story about a person, emotions, interpersonal relationships getting more important. Nemo moving freely in spaces of his own imagination, and viewer ask oneself is it reality or is it dream? Director wants to show this way, that life isn’t a puzzle of ordering elements, only structure which is a result of inexplicable fortune’s accidents. So he doesn’t concentrate on description of outside world, but rather fathoming a inside of human, who in up against a death making recapitulation of his own life. Movie become a form of score- director experiment with time and moving to talk about nature of existence more perceptive. Mark him a syncretism of species, what misleading a viewer, similarly to inexplicit of dramatics.

Director doesn’t want to make one-dimensional picture of world, from this are that the fragments in science-fiction style (good to mention, that these are parts, which makes Nemo- writer) intertwining with parts in documentary convention (Nemo in scientist role) and drama. Just so presentation whole is affinity to used in film concept of entropy- distraction. World in some senses is in state of entropy and this, compositionally and semantically (so on content and form level) want to get maker of film. No one know answer for question: what will time brings? Nemo in interview with journalist appear as sage-philosopher , who give truths with universal character. When journalist asks, which version of his past is real- old man answer that whole are real and right. And then he quote words of dramatist Tennessee Williams: Whole are real, because none of them have bigger meaning. This philosophical perspective is deepen by statement, that death is not ending, but beginning of everything (because of it last Nemo’s words are: This is the happiest day of my life, and director, creator of introducing reality, doesn’t let Nemo to die).

Picture of reality in movie isn’t optimistic, but it’s difficult to define this as explicit pessimistic vision of current world. Artist looks like sceptic who adopt Cartesian attitude of doubt. Like Cartesian finding out, that if this, what we see in our dreams seems real to us, that to imagine is this, that all, what happened in real is a kind of dream too. Finally Nemo ask journalist does he is sure of his exist. Knowledge in future of human and world’s subject stay a mystery- though we can try to create this, like making Nemo in writer role or Dormael in director role. Reality is incessant changing structure. Its liquid shows appeal to motif of water. Elise saying to Nemo: If I stay, you’ll go under in this with me., whereupon character answer: We’ll learn how to swim.

For the rest, about learning of swim are talking many times in “Mr. Nobody”, what let to wind up, that statement lean to swim can treat synonymous to: learn to life. But… How to acquire this skill, when the only good move is don’t moving…?