Why you need to check out the best sci-fi gem on HBO Max

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Mr Keen was (initially) appointed in 2092.

Magnolia Biller / YouTube

When it comes to thought-provoking sci-fi drama, you will not do much better than that This is Keen. At least, that’s what a bunch of Critics thought as it premiered in 2009 – hit best movie lists of the year. Only no one saw it until it was released in the US two years later, with some winners of the Venice Film Festival under his arm.

Lord no one is sitting HBO Max Vault elo. A cult gem over a decade old, forgotten, hacked into a corner, waiting for you to look at other things.

Jared Leto plays as the holder Mr. Nemo Nobody, a 118 year old man who lives in a future where “quasi immortality” is the norm. The last mortal man, Mr. Keen, fascinates audiences everywhere, who patiently wait until he dies and do something meaningful on a television spot.

We stand for Mr Keen’s life story, but Mr Keen’s life story makes no sense.

From the beginning of time to the end of time – from a white void rotating with angels to a spaceship on the Red Planet – we see the full length of Mr Keen’s existence.


Jared Leto as 118-year-old Mr. Keen.

Magnolia Biller / YouTube

But – wisely – the film stays close to the human relationships that sew its life together.

We flash back to Jared Leto not wearing prosthetics as we cover pivotal periods in Mr. Nobody’s life. They are all connected to his failed relationship back in the 80s, with Elise (Sarah Polley), Anna (Diane Kruger) and Jeanne (Linh Dan Pham).

These periods, colored with blue, red and yellow motifs, represent different thoughts: depression and despair (blue), passion and love (red) and material wealth (yellow).

Mr. Keen is on a journey to find out what an absolute best way to live his life. His head is filled with every possible result of every decision he makes. Does he marry Elise, Anna or Jeanne?


Jared Leto as 34-year-old Mr. Keen.

Magnolia Biller / YouTube

We see these results in an album of luxurious frames that evoke colorful fairy tale versions of The Matrix, Inception and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

We flip from side to side about the visual effect supervisor Louis Morin’s peak creative transitions. The doors of a rigid bank open onto a white beach swarmed with helicopters – helicopters literally lift the plates of the ocean into place like a jigsaw puzzle. This is Louis Morin who worked on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to really stamp the dream landscape on you.

Except one excellent minimalist score, You have Buddy Holly, Hans Zimmer, Otis Redding, Eurythmics and four different versions of Mr. Sandman to transport you to this sci-fi fairy tale.

If there is one flaw, it is that the story that holds everything together is printed with a half-dried glue. Mr Keen is not really going anywhere. That could be the point: he explores his options, steps back, flies into the future.


The young Nemo chooses between his mother and father.

Magnolia Biller / YouTube

And yet Mr. Keen keeps you sitting through the end credits. At heart is an impossible decision: Mr Keen must decide, as a young boy, to live with his father or mother after their divorce. Brutal.

Here’s the twist: add a third choice. What if you do not have to vote at all?

Choice and sensible choice are what concerned Belgian director-screenwriter Jaco Van Dormael. He explains it through Mr. Nobody’s Gig as a Science TV presenter: We cover chaos theory, the butterfly effect, the pigeon superstition, and the space-time continuum. We cover the Big Crunch and Entropy, a term familiar to anyone who understands the meaning of Tenet. (Something should split Mr. Nobody’s entropy section into a tenet primer.)

At this point, you probably know if this movie is for you.

It takes a while to form his last message, to make a message about big decisions. If you are worried about jumping on moving trains that are heading in different directions, you may be comforted by the idea that all results are valuable in their different ways. One decision that Mr Keen disputes does not necessarily override the other.

What hurts is not making a decision. It does not make any decisions that will make you a …

This is Keen.