Nemo (1984)

Rating: D

Dir: Arnaud Sélignac
Star: Jason Connery, Mathilda May, Seth Kibel, Nipsey Russell
a.k.a. Dream One

Loosely based on Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, this sees Nemo (Kibel) apparently dream his way into a bizarre land containing all his favourite elements, which includes everything from submarines to Zorro [played, of all people, by Harvey Keitel!). In particular, there’s Alice from “Yonderland” (May), for whom Nemo falls, his love propelling him from childhood to adulthood in an instant, as he tries to help her get back home, and deal with all the other strange inhabitants of the area, including a newly-landed alien from outer-space, plus Mr. Rip (Benjamin), who has a large-scale model of Nemo’s city, and Cunecond, who takes Nemo under his wing, and is also the elevator operator in Nemo’s apartment.

The last named is played by Charley Boorman, a clan who appear to have multiple fingers in this: Charley’s father John was a producer, his sister Katrine plays Nemo’s mother, while a third sibling, Telsche, gets a writing credit. There are elements from The Wizard of Oz, such as the change from b/w to colour, and the way the same actors play both residents of the real world, and in the surreal one, while other aspects are clearly from Alice in Wonderland. However, it is, frankly, a complete mess in just about every way: Kibel’s initial performance as Nemo is irritating enough that you never get any sense of empathy, and Cunecond comes over as Rik Mayall, with all endearing qualities carefully excised, which is simply unpleasant to watch.

This was also apparntly Sélignac’s directorial debut, and that shows too, as things quickly drift out of control and he never regains narrative control. The script seems to consist of flinging one concept after another at the viewer, in an effort to create a “dreamlike” atmssphere, but instead generates little but confusion and disinterest. The only redeeming feature is the film debut of a 19-year-old May, a year before going all nekkid space vampire on us. Damn. Fully clothed she may be, but it’s almost enough reason to sit through this. Almost