Mr. Nobody, A Lesson in Avant-Garde Storytelling

“If you never make a choice, anything is possible.” ~Nemo Nobody from Mr. Nobody.

I watched a movie over the weekend called Mr. Nobody.  What initially attracted me to the movie was Jared Leto because I’m a huge fan of his band, 30 Seconds to Mars.  He’s so cute X3  Anyway, I convinced my husband to watch it with me because I don’t like watching movies in general, and especially not alone.

Mr. Nobody

It was a non-linear story, so it’s hard to describe the plot, but I’ll try.  It’s about a man who is the last living human on earth as everyone else has telemorized into digital representations of themselves.  He recounts his life story to a journalist, but instead of one life he goes through all the different lives he could have had based on decisions he made in the past.  The ending does give a more definitive answer to what life he really led, but I won’t spoil it for those that want to watch it.

There’s a certain beauty in the non-linear format as it breaks down reality and shuffles the pieces to create a story.  This generates a surreal and dream like effect where the viewer wonders what is real and what isn’t.  Just as you think you understand what the film is about, you get yanked out of it and put in another reality.  It had me asking questions like which one is real?  Are any of them real?  It really puts you into the head-space of the narrator as you go on this journey with him through infinite possibilities.

It was really well done.  I think one aspect that I liked was how the different segments bled into each other.  Certain themes were carried throughout the film like water, pools, and drowning, which represented man’s powerlessness in life.  Nemo’s obsession with water and swimming, despite the fact that he couldn’t, symbolized the resilience of humankind  The leaf was a manifestation of the butterfly effect, basically that a minute change in the present can have a huge effect on the future.  One of the central themes was about the randomness of the human experience, and I think the chaotic nature of the film helped the viewer not only understand that point but feel it as well.

Non-linear stories aren’t for everyone.  I really love films and stories like this.  I wish I had seen it prior to writing my suicide story, which is in a non-linear format, because that is what I wanted it to be.  I wanted reality and delusions to bleed together so the reader wasn’t sure what was really going on.  Although I did accomplish that to some extent, and it confused people XD  I wanted to take the reader on a journey as my protagonist loses his grip on reality.  I didn’t just want the reader to know that my character was dying, I wanted them to feel him dying, if that makes sense.

There are some limitations of the non-linear format.  You run the risk of alienating viewers/readers because it’s often confusing, and some give-up before the story gets traction.  Other people just aren’t going to like it because it can come off as choppy and disorienting.  This is why it might be awhile before I write another non-linear story.  It was more difficult than anything I’d ever done before.  If my story was too organized the whole premise of it being from the POV of a dying man would fall apart, but if it was too messy no one would understand it.  To walk that thin line between those two was challenging.

I wanted to finish it by Feb. 28th so I could submit it to Glimmer Train, but I don’t think I’ll make that deadline.  I’ll finish it by the end of February, set it aside for a month (at least) and tweak it a bit more.  The old sections have been revised enough.  It’s the newer parts I’m concerned about. . .   I can submit it to Glimmer Train later, like in June or something.  I only get one shot at it, so I don’t want to rush things and have part of it coming off as unpolished.  I can submit it to other literary magazines in the meantime.  Then I can move onto writing something else 8D

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