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Review: Mr. Nobody

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The circle of life


- A beautiful love story which blends very convincingly with a screenplay on the different narrative levels of the non-linear journey through temporal space

Review: Mr. Nobody

There’s a bit of everything in this epic film by Jaco Van Dormael, director of Toto the Hero and The Eighth Day. It draws on sci-fi fantasies of over 100 years of cinema, as well numerous films that have explored space and time in original ways, from Peter Howitt’s Sliding Doors to Tom Tykwer’s Run Lola Run and Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

In this sense, however, Mr. Nobody [+see also:
film focus
interview: Jaco Van Dormael
interview: Jaco Van Dormael
film profile
, in competition at Venice, doesn’t offer anything new to viewers’ imaginations.

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But underneath the overdeveloped visual flamboyance of this mega-production (whose €50m budget was provided by Philippe Godeau and around 20 partners, including French TV companies, German film support funds, the MEDIA Programme, Belgian government and Canadian institutions) lies a beautiful love story, told using typical melodramatic stereotypes, which blends very convincingly with the theoretical meditations of Van Dormael’s screenplay on the different narrative levels of the non-linear journey through temporal space.

The film centres on Nemo (Jared Leto) who, at the age of nine has to decide whether to stay with his father or mother, due to their imminent divorce, and thus sees the whole course of his life change. In an endless series of flashbacks and flashforwards, Mr. Nobody recounts the infinite possibilities that open up in the protagonist’s life. These include the different love affairs he has or could have had with three women (played by Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger and Linh-Dan Pham), and the various and ever-changing events.

All this unfolds in a highly confusing narrative in which everything becomes blurred but in the end acquires meaning in the discovery of true love, thus closing the circle of life.


international title: Mr. Nobody
original title: Mr. Nobody
country: Belgium, France, Canada, United Kingdom
sales agent: Wild Bunch
year: 2009
directed by: Jaco van Dormael
screenplay: Jaco van Dormael
cast: Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Linh-Dan Pham, Diane Kruger, Natasha Little, Rhys Ifans, Toby Regbo, Juno Temple

main awards/selection

Venezia 2009 In Competition
Stockholm Film Festival 2009 Best Cinematography

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