Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Lanthimos’s Nimic, on MUBI

If you have to be stalked by a doppelganger, they should at least make an effort to look like you, right? Not necessarily in Yorgos Lanthimos’s world. As a result, he might just be the perfect filmmaker to represent late election-year 2020, when someone might be conspicuously out of place, but people perversely refuse to recognize the obvious. A symphony cellist finds himself the victim of such a phenomenon in Lanthimos’s short film Nimic, which is now streaming on MUBI.

The “Father” thought he had a healthy relationship with his wife and three children. Yet, when the strange woman he encounters on the subway tries to take his place, nobody seems to be able to tell them apart. Yet, they look radically different and her cello player sounds like fingernails on a blackboard.

It turns out Matt Dillon is highly compatible with the idiosyncratic Lanthimos aesthetic. As the Father, he projects an appropriate morose dejection, while still maintaining the extreme deadpan we have come to expect from films like
The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Likewise, the crazy eyes of Daphne Patakia’s mimic are truly unsettling, yet she maintains a similarly stoic demeanor.

Lanthimos’s thing worked particularly well in
The Lobster because of the overtly dystopian setting. In a film like Sacred Deer that ostensibly unfolds in the world around us, it can lead to a distracting disconnect, due to the clash of the hyper-stylized behavior with the everyday verisimilitude. However, in a short (twelve minute) film like Nimic, it is easier to accept Lanthimos’ radically understated absurdity. Arguably, the short format more readily lends itself to his brand of post-modern fable.

is rather mordantly amusing and it definitely captures the tenor of the times. Frankly, Lanthimos’s vision might generally be better suited to shorter run times. Yet, the mere fact MUBI would make hay from their acquisition of his short film shows the sort of auteurist stature he has attained. Nimic should please his fans and it offers a bite-sized taste to the curious (those who want to continue with him should check out The Lobster next and not Sacred Deer). Recommended for his admirers and the intrigued, Nimic is now streaming on MUBI.