written by Andrew Lowery and Andrew Miller
directed by Vincenzo Natali
starring David Hewlett and Andrew Miller
review by Stephen Notley
Nothing comes to us courtesy of Vincenzo Natali who a couple of years ago gave us Cube, a little Canadian horror-drama with a simple and aggressive sci-fi concept that led to a simple and aggressive visual style, the whole movie set in an infinite succession of identical cube-rooms. Nothing is a very similar film, a movie wrapped around a concept, a visual, except that this time out the movie-wrapping isn't drama-horror, it's comedy-horror.
Nothing has pep to spare, opening with a zippy little Flash-animated-like prologue that introduces us to our ostensible roommate heroes, Dave and Andrew. Both are losers, Dave slightly more functional as a schmuck who has an actual job, Andrew as a mewling wiener who can't leave the house. Dave shatters Andrew by announcing that he's moving in with his girlfriend, but turns out it's just another cruel joke of the universe on Dave, as his girlfriend is actually framing him for embezzling $30,000 from his work. Meanwhile Andrew runs afoul of a touchy Girl Guide and the city shows up in the form of Gordon Pinscent to serve eviction papers and soon Dave and Andrew are huddled inside trying to block out the angry screams and yells from the mob outside. Then poof, everything goes white, and quiet. When they look outside they see everything is gone, the whole world, their house now suspended in a featureless white expanse.
So there's your central sci-fi concept/image right there: two goofs and a house in a blank-white universe. It's a conceptual toy, and the movie plays with it, probing the properties of nothingness. The "floor" of their universe is springy and resilient, so there's lots of bouncing around in non-space. You really gotta love how the movie wrings everything visual it can from nothingness, rotating the camera around, splitting the screen, playing foreground with no background, the sheer absurdity of a little house floating in blankness. Then, as the boys start to fall into a little No Exit-style Hell-is-other-people-and-particularly-your-annoying-roommate action they also discover that they were responsible for the nothingization in the first place and that they can nothingize the few things that remain, clocks and game controllers dissolving like reflections in pebble-tossed puddles.
It looks great, super clean and crisp. However, since this is supposedly a comedy one must ask at some point how funny it is, and it's not terribly. Truth be told the movie does such a good job convincing us that Dave and Andrew are losers that we believe it such that we don't particularly want to spend time with them. They've got a lot of comic spirit, cartoony panic and fluster, but even one dose of Andrew jumping up and down screaming "Candybar! Candybar! Candybar! Candybar! Candybar! Candybar!" is one too many.
So, Nothing is good the way Cube was, memorable for its idea and visual execution, forgettable in the details of plot and character. Still, kinda neat and hey, it's Canadian!