Saturday, 6 September 2014
"Mr. Nobody" on BLU RAY - A Review Of The 2009 Jaco Van Dormael Movie Starring Jared Leto, Rhys Ifans, Diane Kruger, Natasha Little, Sarah Polley and Linh Dan Pham...
"...How Do We Distinguish Between Illusion And Reality..."
Trying to describe Jaco Van Dormael's 2009 film "Mr. Nobody" is like trying to get a handle on a bowl of the mama's primo spaghetti - difficult but ultimately worth the tasty struggle.
OK - here goes. It's February 2092 and a decrepit Nemo Adult (Jared Leto) wakes up in a hospital bed he doesn't recognize. At 117 he's the oldest man in the world - the last mortal to die of old age (before genetic advancements led to humans enjoying quasi-immortality - a future where endless renewal of cells has even removed the need for sex). Like some fascinating exhibit people want to prod - there's a future-world shrink (Alan Corduner) sat opposite him in an all-white boiler suit with a tattooed face like a Maori warrior and a tiny monitoring device flying between them like a electronic hummingbird. The irritatingly soothing shrink is prodding the old man's thoughts but Nemo seems to have conflicting memories about his past - three women he loved - three wives - with children from each - Anna Adult (Diane Kruger), Elise Adult (Sarah Polley) and Jean Adult (Linh Dan Pham). But first he remembers his birth and his parents - his eccentric English father (Rhys Ifans) - a weatherman who slipped on a leaf on Butterfly Lane and fell instantly in love with the woman who came over to help him (Natasha Little).
Now back to old Nemo again - this time awoken on his 2092 deathbed by a young news reporter who seems to have genuine empathy for him and his life story (English actor Daniel Mays). Talking to the reporter brings up dreams of drowning in a car - awaking in a bathtub only to be assassinated by a man with a silencer - being held in artificial hibernation on board a spacecraft that is falling apart - a unicorn walking through a sea of laughing children - those spirits 'not yet born' - then touched by the angels of oblivion who put a mark on your mouth (only they forgot Nemo).
And as a child Nemo seems to have the gift of seeing the future before it happens - girls he will marry - a recurring dream of a train arriving and departing with his mum leaving her father and Nemo on the platform - him running after it and her... Then there are holidays on Mars with speed motorbikes and pop songs filling bizarre flashback sequences where he's faking suicide on the kitchen floor as an angst-ridden teenager. Blooming love comes his way too as he falls in love to Otis Redding. He crashes on a motorbike and seems to die. And on it goes to Nemo as Jared Leto - the young adult - struggling with his oddness and his predictions and the consequences of the choices he makes...
The thing about "Mr. Nobody" is the sheer audacious breath of it - half of the time you're grappling to work out where the dots are connected - and in the end it does all seem to make some sort of crazy sense. The mixing and editing of different time periods (Forties, Seventies, the future), themes on time, love, what life means and how family makes and breaks you - all of it is truly brilliant stuff. A shot of a teenage Nemo (Toby Regbo) lying on a bed in Canada pans back out through his window to the city he's in until it pulls back further to being a picture of that building in that city on a postcard on a table. "Mr. Nobody" is that kind of mind-bending film. But what gives the movie a beating heart is that amidst all this cleverness are moments of genuine charm and loveliness - a Director's mind at work that is thinking hard about what life and love and adolescence really mean. You may not have a clue what's going on at times but what a wonderful journey to make. And the space sequences are impressively big budget too...
Even across different realities and set pieces (indoors and out) - the BLU RAY picture quality is beautiful. It's defaulted to 2.35:1 aspect ratio (lines top and bottom of the screen) but even stretched to full aspect looks sumptuous. The 5.1 DTS Master Audio gives the Audio a real punch too. The lone extra is a "Making Of" - but at least it's indepth - featuring interviews with Rhys Ifans, Natasha Little, Belgian Director Jaco Van Dormael, Thomas Byrne (child Nemo), Juno Temple (Nemo's teenage girlfriend), Renault Alcard (Assistant Cameraman), the Director of Photography - and all of it combined with location footage and discussions about design. It's very good. There are no subtitles though.
More visionary than Brad and Angelina's psychic, more buffed-up than Vladamir Putin's physical trainer and madder than the Tasmanian Devil on a tab of acid - "Mr. Nobody's is utterly extraordinary filmmaking - a visual and storytelling 5-star masterpiece.
Check it out soon - and maybe even watch it again after - so you can work out what the Hell was going on