MFF 2019: Nimic – short review of the latest project by Yorgos Lanthimos

Nimic. Image credit: Courtesy of Ads of the World

For the first time, I’ve been granted press accreditation to the Milano Film Festival – which is becoming one of the most prestigious European film festivals. With a selection of 27 feature-length films and over 41 short movies, the main theme of this year’s MFF is “coming-of-age” stories, told in every kind of genre you can think of: on this website, you’ll find reviews of every horror-related film at the festival, plus a few articles on other movies that you can find in the Beyond Horror section of the website. This is my review of Nimic (Yorgos Lanthimos, USA/UK/Spain, drama).

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After being nominated at the Oscars with The Favourite, after having disturbed horror fans with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, after having blown the audience’s mind with The Lobster and having shocked Cannes with Dogtooth, the disorientation master is back to the short format with Nimic. This 12-minute-long film, which opened the International Short Film Competition at Milan, follows a cellist – Matt Dillon – as he takes the tube to go home after a concert: just a few words pronounced by an unknown woman (“Do you have the time?”) will shake his word and drag the audience into a short but disorientating ride.

Nimic shows Yorgos Lanthimos’ return to the uncomfortable weirdness of Dogtooth and The Lobster, while displaying camera-work and sound effects mastered on the set of The Favourite. With very little dialogue and a lot of harsh, almost hurtful sound effects, Nimic feels surreal and disturbing, yet hilarious and quirky at the same time.

Matt Dillon does a great job embodying the confused viewer, all the while becoming protagonist of a next adventure we don’t get the chance to witness – but we can easily imagine. The beautiful and talented Daphne Patakia (as Nimic, which means nothing in Romanian) steals the show with her mannerism and facial expressions, eerie and quirky at once.

With its satire, or rather assessment of time and space, Nimic is Yorgos Lanthimos in a nutshell: odd, disturbing, amusing and especially filled with spotless execution on a technical level, this short film truly deserves the recognition it’s getting in festivals around the world. And, finally, Yorgos is starting to experiment with opening titles and end credits, which makes the viewing experience even more exhilarating from the very first second till the screen goes dark.

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