Toto the Hero and The Eighth Day director Jaco von Dormael's long, long awaited third film has finally reached these shores. Mr. Nobody is part sci-fi, part fractured drama and it stars Jared Leto, Diane Kruger, Sarah Polley and the absurdly-hot-right-now Juno Temple.
I was given the (personally very exciting) opportunity to speak to Dormael about this film, his screenwriting process, and his relationship with the audience.
Here are Five Things that he told me.
The Perception Of Reality
What interests me is not reality but the perception of reality and how cinema can, in a way, transpose this perception and transpose the way we think by having the freedom to jump from one moment in time to another and one space to another and to have as much freedom as literature has. This reflects, also, the way we think. By making a film you can enter into a new way of thinking, a new way of imagining, a new way of dreaming.
The Quality Of A Scriptwriter
I had a scriptwriting teacher who said you can measure the quality of a scriptwriter by the amount of hours he spends in his chair everyday. Indeed, when I write, it's not something rapid, but it's everyday work and it comes very slowly. I never know what will happen the next day. It takes a lot of time and I like it.
I think I'm a slow writer but I'm a little lazy too. When I show my films to my granchildren they'll all fit into a single afternoon and they'll say "What else did you do?" and I'll have to say "Nothing!"
From The Scriptwriter To The Audience
Writing a script is like describing a film you have in front of you but which has images that are out of factors, actors that don't have precise faces, sounds that are confused.
For me, the most interesting part of making the film is writing the script. After that it becomes something more collective, which is a different kind of fun – the fun of being together with people.
Usually we say that we write a film three times – in the script, when we shoot it, when we edit – but I should add that there's a fourth time, which is perhaps the most important. This is when one human being looks at it and rewrites the film in their memory. The most important writing will be the rewiriting every spectator does.
All Possible Futures And The Choices We Didn't Take
I think the film is very close to a teenager's way of thinking, to imagine all of these possible futures. For them, it's very positive. But for an audience of 50 or 60 years old, it speak more of regret, of all of the choices we didn't take.
In theatres, there were a lot of teenagers watching the film which surprises me. And not long ago, a teenager came to me who had seen Toto [the Hero, my first film] and said "It's a quantic film." I don't know what quantic means.
A Message In A Bottle
Making films is like sending a message in a bottle. You don't know how many years it will be at sea, where it will go and whether or not somebody will read it. A film takes time to travel.
With some audiences you can attach deeply, but others, probably not. But people who like the film, I don't know what they saw; people who don't like the film, I don't know what they saw; and myself, I'll never see it because it's like the nose in the middle of my face.
We communicate with little messages but we don't ever see what the other sees.
I can at least say that saw something beautiful and intricate, and perhaps it was my age, but Mr. Nobody spoke to me about both possibility and regret.
I've loved all of Dormael's movies to date, and this one perhaps most of all, even with all of its odd pacing and strange glitches.
And there will be more later, from the same interview, with details of two unusual new projects that Von Dormael has in the works.