FanTasia Festival (Day Eighteen)- Much ado about ‘Nothing’

Times winding down and there’s only a week left of the insane FanTasia Festival in Montreal, Canada. Who knows what’s left on reporter Dominic Marceau’s list of movies to watch- he has already seen so many great films, and so few crappy ones. But tonight he gets to write a whole lot about Nothing, a film which is said to be a classic. Read on for the story…

DAY EIGHTEEN – July 25th, 2004
By: Dominic F. Marceau
Today’s episode: Much ado about “Nothing”

Wow! Two Shakespeare references in my last two reports! I hope you’re not making me out to be the Frasier Crane of action reporters! Hey! I could have named them “You take the good, you take the bad, you take ’em both and there you have the Facts of Life” and “Nothing compares to U”, but you guys already know I’m obsessed with all things “Eighties”. So why keep on scratching that scab? (Ok. That’s gross. I apologize…)

I’ve really been lucky so far. Aside from my Chinese-food-induced episode of “Jackass”, this year’s FanTasia festival has shown me all kinds of truly great flicks. “Ginger Snaps Back”, “Doppelganger”, “The Uninvited”, “Shaun of the Dead”, and now “Nothing”.

I’ve been reading up on this flick for more than a year now, so expectations were high as I settled into my seat yesterday afternoon. The weather outside was exquisite. You know those days where the weather is just perfect? You remember those days when you’re freezing your ass off in February. To be stuck inside a movie theatre at three o’clock in the afternoon on such glorious day had me praying this film would be “Something”…

Toronto, present day. Dave and Andrew live in a clutter-filled house that stands between the lanes of an elevated expressway. Dave, a working drone at a wire company, is fired from his job for “apparently” embezzling thousands of dollars. He is hardly smart enough to do so, but his boss thinks otherwise. Andrew, an acute agoraphobe, has an intense fear of the outside world and therefore spends his days working off the Internet. Dave comes back from work (early) and finds that Andrew has been (wrongly) accused of sexual assault. Then, a city official rings their doorbell and announces that their house will be demolished at three o’clock this very same day. In case that wasn’t enough, the police ring their doorbell, with warrants for both men! In a state of shock and mental chaos, the men take refuge in their kitchen, whimpering like children, trying to block it all out.

And then, nothing.

They peek outside and it is revealed that everything and everyone has disappeared, leaving only a never-ending white void. Panicked, they venture out of their home to see this firsthand. For the next few days, they will discover the source of this vast emptiness and how to cope with it, and each other.

I’ve already told you a lot, but I’ve only given you the premise of this absolutely riveting film. What follows is the most intense character study this reporter has seen in a long while. The verbal exchanges of David Hewlett and Andrew Miller are the best thing my ears have heard since Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead”. How hard is it to keep an audience with you when you lose everything but your two main characters? The success of the film relies solely on their acting abilities. In this case, we are treated to absolutely engaging performances from both Hewlett and Miller. These guys know their characters through and through as they have been rehearsing for this film for a long time now. Through improvisation, they honed in on what these characters are all about. In fact, you probably don’t know this but all three men (including director Vincenzo Natali) first shot a version of this film on video as a trial run, to see if everything congealed! Only when they were satisfied with everything, did they move on to this version of “Nothing”. Natali, Hewlett and Miller have known each other for years and have the utmost respect and trust for each other. This couldn’t be more obvious in this film. Natali trusts his actors to carry this film and comes out a winner. This film, while absolutely hilarious, also asks some very important questions. It makes you think like nothing else at this year’s festival. It is the smartest script I have seen in a very long while. This isn’t Kevin Smith smarts. (A plethora of ten-dollar words doesn’t make a script better, or smarter for that matter, Kev!) This film, like the best of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”, is wickedly smart, while not being afraid to roam in absolute absurdity. Visually perfect, this film is a treat for the eyes as well. It’s not because these two unfortunate lads are stuck in a vast emptiness that Vincenzo Natali has to put his camera on sticks and just let them talk! He goes to town with his camera, exploiting the white background to the full extent, and coming up with the most unique visuals I’ve seen since I can remember! Aided with C.O.R.E.’s effective yet minimalist CGI work, Natali comes up with a film that looks like “Nothing”.

And trust me, that IS “Something”…

Cut to credits.

Source: Dominic F. Marceau- Touch HERE Now- feels so good!