MUBI is releasing exclusively and globally Yorgos Lanthimos’ short film >Nimic, starring Matt Dillon, on November 27. In line with his previous feature films, Nimic is a mind-bending story, but it will make you think twice before asking someone the time in future.
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, from a script written by Efthimis Filippou and Lanthimos, based on an idea by David Kolbusz, the twelve-minute long film Nimic sees Matt Dillon play a professional cellist, married with three kids, whose encounter with a random stranger leads to dire consequences.
The beginning of the film turns habitual gestures of a morning routine into tense eeriness. The morning routine of Dillon’s nameless character involves opening the curtains while his wife (Susan Elle) is still half-asleep in bed, and boiling an egg using a timer. The soundtrack plays the dramatically tense music that an orchestra is rehearsing. The soundtrack from the rehearsal continues as the family are gathered around the table for breakfast, but none of the conversations can be heard.
On the subway back from rehearsal with the orchestra, the cellist asks a young woman (Daphne Patakia) sitting across from him for the time. There is an awkward silence as they stare at each other, and she does not reply. She then returns his question. Lanthimos here captures that wonderful moment in Matt Dillon’s facial expression between feeling awkward and being slightly freaked out. As he steps out of the subway, she starts to follow him home.MORE FOR YOU
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Nimic feels like a mind-bending game in which you’re not quite sure what the rules are. By this I mean that anything could happen, as conventional logic is done away with. It is a condensed thriller, playfully absurd, that feels as if it is always on the verge of tipping into horror. It is very much in line with his previous work that Yorgos Lanthimos co-wrote with Efthimis Filippou, all Cannes Film Festival award-winning features, such as the disturbing Dogtooth about insane parental control, the dystopian love story The Lobster, and the unsettling thriller The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The same aesthetic is present, with its defining fish-eye lens that distorts images into disquieting angles.
Like these previous films, Nimic is about identity. The short film effectively taps into the fear of being replaced, or rather of being replaceable. Roles become interchangeable, where a stranger can fulfill your role just as easily as you could within the intimacy of your private life, reproducing your morning routine with no difficulty. Whether that person can perform your role well, better or worse, bears no importance as your family will still choose them over you. Lanthimos and Filippou here stretch the theme of the doppelgänger, or body double, to its very limits. Daphne Patakia looks nothing like Matt Dillon. And that’s perhaps the point, it has nothing to do with resemblance. The film questions the very notion of individuality.
Yorgos Lanthimos says of the film “I was glad to be given the opportunity to work on a shorter format that can be sometimes challenging but quite rewarding. We developed a script starting from a very intriguing initial idea and concept, and enjoyed great creative freedom during the realisation of the film. It is always very exciting to be invited to think outside the box and wrestle with stimulating ideas.”
Nimic is a very fun short film, that plays with tropes of the thriller and horror genre, stretching them into the absurd. Like his previous work, this short film is unsettling in the way that it challenges the conventional, pulling its protagonist, and the viewers, out of their comfort zones.
Nimic is now exclusively on MUBI.