Sarah Polley is somebody in “Nobody”


Sarah Polley, one of the most gifted actors and filmmakers of her generation, just began filming in Brussels for Mr. Nobody, an intriguing sci-fi fantasy by Belgian filmmaker Jaco van Dormael and co-starring Jared Leto.

The plot is described as having something to do with chaos theory, the “butterfly effect” and the exigencies of existence, and the last mortal man contemplating his past life and lost marriage. Whatever. We’ll go with anything if it turns out well, which is always a long shot, if I’m up on my latest chaos film theory.

Polley was the darling of the international film festival circuit with her recent film Away From Her featuring perhaps the best performance of Julie Christie‘s career. The film, widely considered one of the year’s best and available on DVD in September, is an astonishing achievement for Polley, who both wrote the screenplay and directed. Here’s the trailer: readers might remember Polley best from Exotica, in which she starred with fellow Canadian and L Word waif Mia Kirshner, but truly obsessed fans are still recovering from the impenetrable 2001 fantasy No Such Thing, which featured another favorite, Helen Mirren. This train wreck of a film must have served as a sort of disaster-preparedness drill for Polley as an aspiring director.

A Polley film I love is Michael Winterbottom‘s The Claim, a western retelling of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. The cinematography and feel reminds me strongly of Julie Christie’s great McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and features unforgettable performances by Polley and Nastassja Kinski (note to self: might be a nice time to program a little Julie Christie film festival via Netflix — maybe Petulia, Dr. Zhivago and The Secret Life of Words, which also features Polley).

Polley is also playing Abigail Adams, daughter of John and Abigail Adams (Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney) in HBO’s upcoming, well, John Adams. I’m looking forward to sharpening my snark teeth for this one, if it turns out anything like the 1984 miniseries George Washington. Anyone here old enough to remember that gaseous gem with Barry Bostwick, Patty Duke and Jaclyn Smith? Ah, the joys of being 14 years old and titillated by watching Jaclyn Smith playing George Washington’s mistress. Simpler, geekier times!

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