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Jared Leto, Diane Kruger, Sarah Polley, Linh-Dan Pham, Natasha Little ... see more see more... , Rhys Ifans , Toby Regbo , Juno Temple , Thomas Byrne , Audrey Giacomini , Laura Brumagne , Alan Corduner , Daniel Mays , Michael Riley , Harold P. Manning , Emily Tilson , Roline Skehan , Anders Morris Rundberg , Pascal Duquenne , Noa DeConstanzo , Chiara Caselli , Linh Dan Pham

A young boy stands on a station platform. The train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? An infinity of possibilities rise from this decision. As long as he doesn't... read more read more... choose, anything is possible. Every life deserves to be lived. (c) Magnolia

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77% liked it

21,639 ratings


67% liked it

27 critics

R, 2 hr. 35 min.

Directed by: Jaco Van Dormael

Release Date: November 1, 2013

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DVD Release Date: February 25, 2014

Stats: 1,382 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (1,382)

  • April 3, 2014
    A 118-year old man, the last mortal left on Earth in 2092 after humanity has discovered the secret of genetic immortality, tells his life story to a curious journalist, mixing up his memories and telling contradictory stories in which he is in love with three different women. Wit... read moreh its multiple storylines, heartbreaking romance, amazing sight gags, and clever philosophical asides, this amazing movie shows more imagination than the last five movies you saw put together.
  • February 5, 2014
    This is the strangest movie I did not understand but still for some reason LOVE!
  • August 4, 2013
    Dormael's ambition, though appealing, moves dangerously towards pretentiousness as he attempts to concoct this intricate, convoluted plot - which bears many unnecessary elements that end up bloating it into a flawed, overlong structure that lacks a clear focus.
  • March 9, 2012

    A drop of rain falls on a piece of paper and smudges the phone number (belonging to a girl named Anna) written on it. The number gets erased and so does any trace of Anna. The narrator of the story, Nemo Nobody, aged 118 explains to the journalist interviewing him, "... read moreDo you wanna know why I lost Anna? Because 2 months earlier, an unemployed Brazilian boiled an egg"!

    Confounding? Not half as what this extremely cerebral film has to offer! Jaco Van Dormael, the Belgian filmmaker who didn't make too many films in his career had earlier astonished us with his excellent "Toto Le Heros" (1991) ( about an old man recalling his tragic childhood and surviving with the sole goal of vengeance for his loss and often confusing reality with fantasy. "Mr. Nobody" provides for a heady cocktail of this earlier Dormael film and some other films, particularly "Donnie Darko", "The Fountain" and "The Butterfly Effect". Only "The Butterfly Effect" is more like an entertaining popcorn fantasy that doesn't go deep into the Science of it, unlike "Donnie Darko". "Mr. Nobody" is akin to "Donnie Darko", but not plot-wise. Like "Donnie Darko", it is one of those rare films that is a work of fiction built around existing scientific principles of Physics and Physical Cosmology.



    The year is 2092. It is the age of 'quasi-immortality'. Mortality is a thing of the past. So is sex! The 118 years old Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto, brilliant, but a tad hammy) is the last mortal on earth. He appears to be confused.....keeps telling a shrink with a painted face that he is 34! Later, tells a journalist (Daniel Mays) that he is "Mr. Nobody" and that he "doesn't exist"! Upon probing by the journalist, Mr. Nobody starts narrating a strange tale of his supposed past right from his childhood (age 9) through his teen years (age 15) to his adulthood (age 34). But the story isn't straightforward as it should be....there appear to be multiple threads; multiple lives, multiple realities...each with its own love interest for Nemo!


    There's one thread in which Nemo grows up with his mother who marries a man, whose daughter Anna becomes the object of Nemo's affection. Then there is another in which Nemo grows up with his crippled father and becomes romantically involved with Elise, a girl who also has emotional problems! And then there is the third thread in which Nemo marries Jean, merely out of a whim! These stories branch out into sub-stories, involving one outlandish adventure on the Planet Mars where Nemo travels to scatter his wife's ashes!! Or that freaky universe which appears to be dominated by argyle patterns and Nemo is guided by signs all around him! The journalist is confused, of course; doesn't know what to believe! Yet Nemo jokes...."(in those days) Most of the time, nothing happened. Like a French movie"!!


    So what really happened with Nemo? Did he live all those pasts? Are any of those stories real, or figments of his imagination? The fact as we know it, is that all time is irreversible. It moves in one direction. But does it really? Does Nemo have the power to alter the course of time...?



    A LOT of questions pop up while watching this film which is almost impossible to grasp in the first sitting. While Dormael drops plenty of clues in the form of dialog and explanations of various scientific theories in order to enable us to understand what he is getting at, it is still quite a task to put together this difficult film! We can gather some hints in the first viewing, but a second viewing can shed some more light on certain things we may easily miss in the first viewing! The 34 year old Nemo (in one of his many pasts!) is a scientist and an anchor for a TV show and is seen explaining to an audience, the principles of Entropy, The arrow of time, The Butterfly Effect, the Innate fear, The Big Bang, The Big Crunch and a lot of other theories that the film's plot is based upon! We are supposed to infer our own interpretation of the film by tying these theories to whatever happens in Nemo's life! This device reminds one of "Donnie Darko" (The Director's Cut) where some intertiles from a text are interspersed in the narrative to hint at what exactly was happening in the film! There are at least a couple of mentions of The Butterfly Effect (the theory, not the film!) in "Chaos Theory" which is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions; where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state (Source: Wikipedia). To further stress on this effect, there is also an example given in the form of an incident in one of Nemo's pasts....the aforementioned incident which appears in the first line of this review!


    But this film isn't really about time travel and altering the past seeking a better future. On a broad level, I think it is about choice and NOT making it! When faced with a choice, as long as you "don't choose", there are infinite possibilities, infinite universes which have their own ends...the theories of Big Bang and Big Crunch are transported to a personal and emotional level in a unique fictional narrative that is unparalleled, the similarities with "Donnie Darko" and "The Butterfly Effect" notwithstanding! A Chess move is quoted to give an example, the 'Zugzwang': "The only viable NOT to move"! The film also follows a tree-structure with 'branched' narratives representing the multiple threads, further branching out into sub-branches of multiple choices (or lack thereof...of making any!).


    But ultimately amidst all the scientific mumbo-jumbo, this film has a heart....and literally so, as it explores the protagonist's emotional ups and downs...the trauma of the separation of the parents, having to "choose" who to live with; the teenage romance(s), the heartbreaks, the desire for a good family life, kids, the works; these emotions come into play across narratives too. It is the emotional thread that binds all the branches together, and the manifestation of this is seen in some scenes in which Nemo appears to have memories of another reality in his "current reality"! So what is it exactly? Does Jaco Van Dormael even know what he has filmed? He obviously does. It is not all random as it seems, that is certain. But is there a single thread that connects the dots neatly and gives us a comprehensible structure? Or is Van Dormael only interested in playing tricks? For as you dig deeper, you find out there is not just one thread that connects the dots! There are still more! Just like the branched structure of the narrative itself!


    The complex theme is only complemented by Jaco Van Dormael's penchant for quality filmmaking. His varying use of colour as it reflects the mood in each of the narratives of the "lives" of Nemo is especially commendable. And so is the beautiful music score, the choice and placement of songs in the key scenes in the narrative which give the film its distinct mood. The bizarre, dream-like imagery with the accompanying sound design is a treat for lovers of surrealism and there is a lot for film buffs who are suckers for teenage romance too! There is very little room for character development, thanks to a narrative that keeps shifting between timelines and universes and characters, but that is no reason to complain. The ensemble cast, including Jared Leto, Toby Regbo, Diane Kruger, Juno Temple, Sarah Polley, Daniel Mays, Rhys Ifans and Natasha Little all do their jobs well, especially Leto who has a mighty challenging task of playing several roles (well...almost!). He goes all out, yet slightly hams as the old, decrepit Nemo in some scenes. One really wishes there was more of Sarah Polley and Diane Kruger. Sadly, both get very little screen time, although Polley nails it with her 'Borderline personality disorder' performance. Juno Temple and Toby Regbo as the teenaged Anna and Nemo respectively make their doomed lovers angle of the story more watchable.



    "Mr. Nobody" is a film that will not go down well with most people. It is a kind of film that is at a very big risk of being written off as "pretentious" and "self-indulgent"! Others may care less just because it is a little too heavy on the head! But it is also a film that is intellectually stimulating. It makes for some great food for thought and analyzing the story and then re-watching it makes it a more exciting experience. Additionally, it is a mind-expanding film that will make you aware of so many things around you if you are averse to reading about such material otherwise. It will make you rethink the ideas of space, time and reality as you know it!

    My advice? Take up the challenge. Watch "Mr. Nobody"!

    Score: 9/10.

  • February 7, 2012
    In the late 21st century the last man who will die of old age thinks back on his life and the different paths it could have taken in this mix of arthouse drama, romance and science fiction. The film's problem soon becomes apparent: the audience remains as uncertain and confused a... read morebout the real events in Nemo's life as the old man himself. He meets the girl, he loses the girl, the girl dies, he marries the girl. Possibilities blend into each other, we get different versions of the decisions he made and ends up marrying three different women. But which one is the real life he lead? Thankfully, the old man's interviewer is soon as confused as we are. Because while all that may sound pretty interesting, and it is for a while, things soon get repetitive and more confusing than necessary. It feels a bit as if the film wants to screw with our minds just for screwing's sake. By the end you don't even really expect a solution that makes sense anymore, and of course you only get a half-assed one. That's not to say that there are rewarding aspects to this film. Leto's acting is great and the futuristic set-ups and cinematography are outstanding. The problem is that the film's many layers keep you from connecting with the characters because you have no chance of knowing which parts are true or not anyway. A brave attempt, that would have worked so much better had it been a little more straight forward.
  • May 20, 2011
    Long, confusing and boring.
  • October 27, 2010
    Little known Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael - in only his third film in almost 20years - tackles the bigger conundrums of life, in the nature of existence, love and the life force surrounding us all.
    It tells the story of 'Nemo' (Jared Leto) the only human being left on the p... read morelanet, that will die naturally, in the year 2092. Now 118years old, he is on his deathbed and relaying his life story to a young journalist. He goes back to when he was a young boy and forced to choose between his parents when they got divorced. Not happy with being put in that position, he chose both. This resulted in opening up alternate realities and infinite possibilities as we follow Nemo through the numerous choices he made (and didn't make) throughout his life.
    Parts of the constantly changing realities are told from a childs eyes like Van Dormael's superb debut "Toto the Hero" and full of visual flair and wonder. This is a highly creative European director making his craft more accessible to a wider audience. I just hope that a wider audience pays attention. The film is rich in it's vibrancy and imagination and you dont get much more ambitious than tackling Chaos Theory, String Theory and the Butterfly Effect. Analysing the choices one makes in life and the eternal rippling effect it has, creating alternate realities and what could have beens. Entropy and the randomness of our existence. Posing the question as to whether it matters in what we choose in life, as the other possibilities are just as valid and important.
    I could quite easily give this five stars for it's sheer beauty and ambition but as I drifted a little throughout, due to it being slightly overlong, I've decided on my current rating. That is, until such times as I see it again. Then again, maybe I've seen enough to formulate my opinion but only time will tell, and time after all, is relative.
    If invested in, its very rewarding.
  • October 23, 2010
    "A great story about "what-ifs" and the incredible aspect of time..."

    Jaco van Dormael surprised me with this non-linear story about the meanings behind the time as an adjuster of life... There is no explanation for the end but more of a question about it: the what if segment... read more of life. What if the end is no near what we think it is? What if the end is reversible and any action we performed in life we could reperform after the so-called end. The point of this movie was, without a doubt, to make yourself think about the different possibilities of this deep question about everything we know. By the look of that, I agree that this director is a big fan of Kubrick's Odyssey since this movie kind of challenges the same system of beliefs. It's a powerful film, emotional I could say since it delivers a lot of messages about love, hate, insanity, about what is sanity, about loneliness and progress. It's a beautiful work and I had to give this movie credit for being not that original but much more interesting and well executed than ninety percent of the movies released in the last years.

    The cast was my big problem. I couldn't actually like anyone besides Jared Leto. They all seem dull with their characters and had a flat approach for them. The characters though were developed good and you could always connect pieces from each different story without having a hard time. The best part of this movie I tend to say it was the editing which was simply great, lots of beautiful shots arranged in the proper order... That's what kept me interested in the movie besides the story: what should I expect from this scene? where will the movie head after this scene? and so on... By the way, the soundtrack fitted the movie almost perfectly.

    I recommend this movie to any person who enjoys smart storylines and interesting characters. This movie could have been executed better, without a doubt considering the decors could have been a little bit better, but it impressed me how much the director did with so little... I'll give this movie my next ratings and see you on my next review...

    Storyline/Dialogue: 9/10.
    Acting: 7,5/10.
    Art Direction: 8,5/10.
    Cinematography/Editing: 9/10.
    Soundtrack/Score: 8,5/10.
    Visual Effects: 7,5/10.
    Overall: 8,3
  • fb6025506
    August 11, 2014
    MR. NOBODY is director Jaco Van Dormael's meditation on life and its choices. It is as beautiful as it is evocative, disjoint as it is stirring, both a futuristic sci-fi and a love medley, heartfelt and humanistic in all its elements. This experimental narrative boasts stunning v... read moreisuals, crisp editing, a moving soundtrack, and a high-concept story that is both fascinating and original - one that will undoubtedly provoke your mind and leave you pondering its profound and interesting questions.
  • September 17, 2014
    Excellent movie. Makes you think. I would call it a cross between Inception and the Butterfly Effect.

Critic Reviews

Michael O'Sullivan
October 31, 2013
Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post

Never mind that several characters seem to gain or lose British accents throughout the course of the film. The lack of continuity only enhances the sense of deliciously dizzying disequilibrium. Full Review

Ben Kenigsberg
October 31, 2013
Ben Kenigsberg, AV Club

As philosophy, Mr. Nobody seems sillier than it is profound. But in a parallel reality, more movies would have this degree of insane ambition. Full Review

Deborah Young
October 28, 2013
Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter

This big-budget English-language co-production shows that Europeans can compete in the sci-fi realm where high production values are king. Full Review

Jennie Punter
April 4, 2011
Jennie Punter, Globe and Mail

While Mr. Nobody contains some truly moving scenes, it eventually starts to try your concentration when you suspect all the space/time continuum shuffling may never become more than the sum of its parts. Full Review

Boyd van Hoeij
April 4, 2011
Boyd van Hoeij, Variety

A film that has a beating heart underneath its messy -- though breathtakingly designed -- exterior. Full Review

Zach Hollwedel
August 18, 2014
Zach Hollwedel, Under the Radar

[Writer-director] Van Dormael seems unsure of what exactly it is he's trying to say, and thus Mr. Nobody rambles on for nearly two and a half hours. Full Review

Jeff Beck
February 24, 2014
Jeff Beck,

There are times when the film is entirely lucid in the points it wants to get across on love and the various choices we have to make throughout our lives, while at other times it seems lost in its ove... Full Review

Chris Sawin
February 24, 2014
Chris Sawin,

Complex, visually stunning, and pleasantly convoluted, this is a film that seems like it can't be confined to one genre and while time flows in one continuous direction Mr. Nobody makes it a point to ... Full Review

Christopher Runyon
February 20, 2014
Christopher Runyon, Movie Mezzanine

Too clinical to have an emotional impact, not romantic enough to engage a standard audience, and not smart enough for viewers looking for an intellectual experience. Full Review

Laura Clifford
November 12, 2013
Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews

ambitious as all get out and a wonder from start to finish. Full Review

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    • Nemo: The child could not make a choice because he did not know what would happen, but now that he knows what will happen, he can not make a choice.
    • Nemo: In chess, it's called Zugzwang, when the only viable move is not to move.
    • Nemo: A long as you don't choose, everything remains possible.
    • Nemo: They also call me Mr. CRAFT. You know, Can't Remember A Fucking Thing.
    • Nemo: Together we can do it.
    • Elise: If I stay here, you're all gonna end up drowning with me.
    • Nemo: We'll learn to swim. I love you.
    • Elise: I love you.
    • Nemo: Without you, there is no life.

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Mr. Nobody Trivia

  • In How to lose a guy in 10 days Kate hudson said... "Nobody likes a ________"  Answer »
  • What movie has this quote: "It's better to be a fake somebody, than a real nobody"?   Answer »
  • This movie's theme and subject matter concentrates on this quote: "Is it better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody?"  Answer »
  • Actor A:"Blow. Come on, blow. Nobody likes a Mister Sniffles!" Actor B:"I hate Mr Sniffles." (Almost everybody in the room giggles) Name that movie!  Answer »

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