Mr. Nobody

September 15, 2014


This is a challenging work, but not as challenging toward becoming a David Lynch mindfuck. Meaning, the writer/director spares us from the headache of having to transcend the expected cinematic grammar that has been used since the artistic medium’s creation and has predictably been accorded based on its rational correspondence with the ordering of human conscious experience. Yet at the same time, we are able to piece together a world where there are many of them.


I can’t think of a film which has more poignantly captured the crisis of modern man in lieu of the strain from scientific reasoning to know completely through what his mind perceives. It is as if the pursuit of human knowledge broke through a dam, flooding an empty bank torrentially, only to violently be throttled after reaching equilibrium with what it has sought. And yes, that includes nihilism in the wake of its failure.


Of course it would have failed, as Kant could easily predict. The challenge over the last century has been in moving the mind of man toward a higher level of understanding the reality he has conditioned himself in, away from the simplicity of Newtonian mechanics, toward understanding the observation of his world is the participation of its creation. There has been no reconciliation with the old science and a new one, mandated after the old was obliterated by microscopically tracing the faintest possible speck of energy, which Einstein marvelously made understood to also be the composition of all matter, including us. And so we have a playfulness of the open-endedness of the unanswerable question that the void between the old world science and the new world has left. And it is seen here with Mr. Nobody.


The film doesn’t try to be too clever as mentioned. It is elementary to understand that the menagerie of human experience from Nemo Nobody is attempting to encapsulate the totality of his being, that in other words what Nemo is is everything that he is possibly. Hence we see the expansive permutations of one decision early on in his childhood. And yet, the crucial flaw in the film’s thesis is that no decisions actually matter.


This conclusion is actually incredibly startlingly identical to Martin Heidegger’s meditation on man’s being and the nature of the temporal as providing it with structure. While both affirm that the structure itself is pointless. It exists for no reason in other words. Thus to draw upon the French meditation of human existence on their favorite subject of love, seen extensively and near-exclusively in Mr. Nobody, the cardiac arrest of a contradiction is made visible. Love is not seen to correspond to anything substantial, i.e. beyond the human experience of experiencing. All there is, the only thing that is in itself, is the experience of experiencing itself. There is nothing beyond what appears in time, and hence, there is nothing beyond what is structured by man’s being.


Love becomes just a passion, just an animal lever that man cannot escape from pulling for himself. It does not mean anything transcendental, meaning the idea of love does not correspond to something spiritual and divine despite being treated with such sanctity by the French and this film. Its turmoil and chaos that it wreaks on the lives of man happens for no reason. Every decision man makes for himself has no consequence – they are all equal. Thus the striking simile of Mr. Nobody and Heidegger’s nihilism, in that they both find being as nothingness.


Grade: A-



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