The name Yorgos Lanthimos has become a lot more familiar in the last few years (whether it’s pronounced correctly or not) and surprisingly he’s made less short films than he has features, recently returning to the medium after 6 years. Nimic follows a professional cellist, who has an encounter with a stranger on the subway which has unexpected and far-reaching ramifications on his life. Featuring: Matt Dillon, Daphne Patakia, Susan Elle, Sara Lee, Eugena Lee and Rowan Kay.
Things start off simple enough, a cellist finishing up a rehearsal and returning home, it’s only when he asks a stranger for the time that things get complicated. There’s an inherent expectation based on Lanthimos’s previous work for something strange and unusual, this is no exception because while you get 1 or 2 normal minutes of events, it becomes more and more odd from then. That’s where this particular filmmaker becomes extremely divisive, there will probably be a lot of people that simply can’t get along with his style and that’s amplified further in a short, with little time to open up the story more and develop the characters, it can be quite harsh in his offbeat style. However, one aspect of that style is that he’s fantastic at making even everyday moments feel dramatic, no moment ever seems average.
Giving away no spoilers, it’s hard to explain the story because while it does provide that classic WTF Lanthimos charm, it also feels slightly repetitive and doesn’t go very far and its intrigue is purely from a psychological perspective. Casting Matt Dillon wasn’t an ideal choice for this particular film, he’s in a role which requires you to be fairly sympathetic to his troubles and Dillon isn’t a very sympathetic actor, he can come across more standoff-ish, especially given that his most successful role of recent years was playing a complete psychopath. The performance itself is decent but without being able to connect more to his character, especially in that limited time, it simply isn’t as effective as it should be.
There’s a nice use of the fish eye lens that many will remember for his overt use of it during The Favourite, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it pop up in more of his future projects. The whole film is shot extremely well, there’s a distinct quality to it and these filmmakers are overly capable of taking something ordinary and adding just the right shot, tone or score to make it feel completely different. That said, even a fantastic visual can’t make a film 5-star worthy without a relentlessly captivating story and Nimic doesn’t quite have that, it is interesting without a doubt but it doesn’t go much further than that.
The film’s concept is solid, if it had more time to be explored and for the characters to be given more depth, it would be even better, as it stands there’s little to invest in. There’s a sense that the film is being held back from its full potential, something about it doesn’t quite gel as smoothly as it should. It’s intriguing and worth watching but for a filmmaker as fascinating as Lanthimos, it’s surprisingly forgettable.