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Nimic Review: Father Time

Yorgos Lanthimos’ darkly comedic short, Nimic, follows a professional cellist and family man who has a bizarre encounter on the train: a moment that will send him down an existential rabbit hole. For just twelve minutes of your time, you will leave with a million questions.


The Father (as we know him) wakes up and draws the curtains, rousing his wife who had been next to him. After a day of playing the cello in a studio, he hops on the train back home. Looking across at the woman opposite, he asks her for the time. This run-of-the-mill question puts a spoke in his wheels as she then mimics his question back to him.


Nimic is a film which explores parental roles and the feeling of insecurity that can come with them. What does it mean to be a father? How do a mother and father differ? There are some men in modern society who often feel second best in their relationship with their kids because of the mother figure. Questioning these ideals reduces them to an archetype—the strong, cavemannish patriarch. Our protagonist reckons with these questions as he carries a bunch of flowers back to his wife, but he is never alone. Only elevating these ruminations are the striking images Lanthimos includes, such as the boiling of an egg and placing just one foot between the wife’s two feet.


The camera shots in this film are hyper-specific. We are an observer in the films, whether that be sitting at the table, next to him while he plays the cello, or following him home. Lanthimos’ directorial choices present a sense of dread to the audience. The mimic, played by Daphné Patakia, only contributes to this feeling with her moon-wide eyes and ventriloquist’s smile. With an ominous, Nimic makes you want to cower behind the sofa.


A mimic is someone who copies another, and while Lanthimos’ short is somewhat similar, there is a bigger picture. Do fathers mimic the mothers of their children? Men often feel left out of experiences like pregnancy, childbirth, and playgroups. They are often accused of looking dodgy while their kid(s) plays in the park. It takes a special kind of director to pack so many themes into such a short space of time.


When the credits roll, not only do letters drop from people’s names, but we are met with a mirage of sound. Birds call, motorbikes cruise along, bicycles crash into each other, and children shout as they play. This is the picture of existence: the face of our roles as people, stretching back thousands of years. Who are we with nothing to nurture?

By Courtenay Schembri Gray


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