Directed and written by Jack Van Dermal, Mr.. Nobody is a brilliant film that portrays the timeless theme of life’s choices and possibilities in a refreshing and dazzling manner. Despite the complex and unconventional narrative structure of the plot, Dermal demonstrates his extraordinary skills of storytelling through presenting to the audience a magnificent film with a form more complicated than Tom Tester’s Run Lola Run and a theme broader than Peter Hotpot’s primary focus on love in Sliding Doors.
This essay will analyze how the the seven key conventions defined by
Borrowed (2002) are defied by or applied on the film’s multi-draft narrative. The film begins with a montage showing four deaths of Memo at the age of 34—him lying in morgue, him drowning in his car under water, him being shot in the bathtub, and him waking in an explosion of a space shuttle. The quick scenes are then closely followed by 118-year-old Memo waking up in 2092, looking as if he is confused over his own past.
His memory appears to have paused in 2009 as he claims to be 34 years old. With the help of his doctor, Memo begins to recount.
These parts of Memo’s story, his childhood and old age, are in a somewhat linear narration. The voice-over of young Memo explains that the unborn children know everything about the past and future until the Angels of Oblivion place a finger on their lips and make them forget. Being missed by the angels, Memo chooses his own parent’s and comes to the world knowing everything.
He knows, from the very beginning, that certain things are meant to be. He also ponders upon existence and the irreversibility of time, which are brought up in the later parts of the elm over and over.
At the age of 9, Memo realizes the difficulty of choosing and faces the first crossroad of his life, from which point the film complicates into a multi-draft narrative. “We cannot go back. That’s why it’s hard to choose. You have to make the right choice. As long as you don’t choose, everything remains possible. ” With that in mind, little Memo chooses not to make a choice between two kinds of dessert or among three of his future partners. The audiences see Memo marrying all three of them at the similar age but in different lives.
All parallel narrative begins when Memo faces the most critical decision of his life—deciding which parent he should live with after their separation. This can be seen as the first branching point of Memo’s lives. Memo marries three women, Anna, Elise and Jean, has different Jobs and dies in different incidents all in similar age, indicating that the film conforms to Bordello’s fifth convention: forking paths often run parallel. In the first narrative, Memo follows his mother and falls in love with Anna. Choosing to stay with his father in the second ND third narratives, Memo falls for Elise and Jean respectively.
In one of these two narratives Memo writes his own novel about traveling towards Mars on a shuttle, which makes the fourth narrative. Each of these forking paths is linear on its own, keeping to Bordello’s first convention: “each path, after it diverges, adheres to a strict In these parallel narratives, Memo keeps changing the courses whenever he encounters unpleasant incidences, such as the several deaths mentioned above. For example, in the second narrative, Memo falls in love with Elise who does not return is affection. Heartbroken, he gets into a horrible bike accident and becomes paralyzed.
Yet as soon as the viceroy says “Vive got to get out of here. Go back. Before the accident”, the audiences watch the accident rewind and Memo making a slightly different decision then eventually marrying the girl of his dreams. The protagonist defies death and reverses time. Here, the film adheres to the sixth convention: the forking paths presuppose the previous ones, as Memo makes the wiser choice in the second narrative. On the whole, Memo wants to reinvent his own life while the doctor and the interviewer aim to make sense of Memo’s stories and find out which of them is true.
In this sense, it can be said that the characters of Mr. Nobody are somewhat goal- oriented. “Everything you say is contradictory. You can’t have been in one place and another at the same time. Of all those lives, which one is the right one? ” asks the interviewer. This line shows that the film is self-reflective as it is clearly aware of the nature of its unconventional narrative. The forking paths of Memo consist of recurrent characters and background conditions across the different lines of action” (Waded, 2009) which is Bordello’s third convention.
For instance, whichever path Memo takes, he always runs into Anna, the woman who loves him as much as he does her. Not only does it show the intersection of the multiplicity, it also highlights the love theme of the film—one cannot possibly be happy with someone if the affection is not mutual. That is why Memo is not happy with either Elise or Jean. As Memo changes the course of his lives repeatedly, the audiences could not help but ender which fragment is his real life and whether the things he says are true at all, especially when all his alternative lives literally collide together towards the end of Memo’s recollection.
In the narrative where he stays with his dad, marries but loses Elise to an accident, Memo escapes the death of drowning that he would have had in another narrative, but is told by his neighbor that he is drowned. The Memo in yet another narrative who is typing in a house then finds himself in danger of drowning as the house is suddenly flooded with water. Multiple circular narratives merge into nee.
Towards the end, the seemingly linear narrative of the entire film is broken down as 118-year-old Memo tells the interviewer that neither of them really exists, because they are only “imagined by a nine year old child faced with an impossible choice”. Memo eventually dies at the time he has predicted he would, but as soon as he does, time rewinds quickly all the way to his childhood, echoing with Memo’s earlier statement to his younger self, “For me, time is inverted. I start at the end of the story and go toward the beginning” and confirming that he has truly always known everything about the past as well as the future.
The film ends, leaving its audiences In conclusion, Mr. Nobody complies with four out of seven key conventions of Bordello’s, showing that it goes beyond traditional narrative norms. The narrative might be more closed than open in each single forking path, but it is definitely open in terms of the whole film. The mysteries of Memo’s life have not been solved, leaving the audiences with plenty information gaps and room for interpretation. Nonetheless, the director has made his point rather explicitly through Memo’s answer o the interviewer’s confusion, “Each of these lives is the right one!