Andrew and Dave in... Nothing
|Directed by||Vincenzo Natali|
|Produced by||Steven Hoban|
|Written by||Vincenzo Natali
David Hewlett (story)
|Music by||Michael Andrews|
|Editing by||Michele Conroy|
|Distributed by||Alliance Atlantis|
|Release date(s)||September 9, 2003 (Toronto International Film Festival)|
|Running time||90 min.|
The film tells the story of two good friends who live together, Andrew (Andrew Miller), an agoraphobic travel agent who works from his home, and Dave (David Hewlett), a loser who works in an office where he is treated with contempt. As unpleasant as their lives are, things get much worse within the span of one day: Dave is fired from his job after his girlfriend frames him for embezzlement, Andrew is falsely accused of attempted child molestation by a young girl extorting cookie sales, and both are informed by a city building inspector that their house is slated to be demolished by the end of the day to make way for a freeway expansion. Both of them hide away inside the house as police, city officials, and outraged neighbors surround it, clamoring for the two to come out. The two frantically look for some means of escape until suddenly and abruptly all goes quiet. Confused, Dave and Andrew open their front door and discover that the entire world beyond their house is gone, replaced with a featureless white void.
Though initially frightened about their new circumstances Dave and Andrew take the development in stride, adapting to their new-found isolation and treating it as a much needed vacation. Eventually, after a simple test reveals that the nothingness surrounding them holds a flat, featureless, and somewhat springy surface, the two set out across the empty plane in order to explore their new surroundings, leaving a trail of household items behind as a means of finding their way back. The trek stretches on for a significant distance and nearly becomes a permanent exile when, after running out of items to leave as a trail, Dave and Andrew panic and lose track of their path. Wandering leads them to what appears to be another house, but when they "sneak" up on it they discover they have simply wandered back home, much to their relief.
Panic begins to set in again when Andrew realizes that the house is completely out of food, resulting in a frantic scramble for food sources, argument, and finally depression. As the two lounge weakly in the front room, hungry, Andrew glances around the room, eventually stopping and glaring at a noisy clock on the wall; within a few seconds it disappears. Shocked, Dave and Andrew argue over what became of the clock until Andrew comes up with a theory, which he puts to the test: dropping a stack of overdue bills in front of Dave, Andrew asks him to concentrate on how much he dislikes them, and within seconds the bills abruptly disappear. The two realize that they can "hate away" things, as Dave "hated away" the bills, Andrew "hated away" the clock, and (remembering the moment before the world disappeared) they both "hated away" the entire world outside their house. Dave puts one last theory to test, concentrating hard for a moment before a look of relief washes over him: he has hated away his need for food.
Though the two are now mostly content with their situation Dave expresses some concern over Andrew's remaining phobias, questioning why the phobias still exist when there's nothing left to fear. Reluctantly, Andrew reveals that he was abused and tormented by his parents as a child. With some urging from Dave he hates away the memory of each traumatic childhood event as he recounts it; when he is finally done he is no longer phobic and much more confident in himself. Unfortunately this change alters Andrew's personality and leads to friction between the two friends, finally building into an outright confrontation. The two decide that they can no longer share the same house, and opt to determine who keeps it by playing a match of their favorite fighting game. Dave loses, and is exiled with his possessions to reside out in the nothingness.
Things become very tense with Dave's departure. Dave attempts to engage Andrew in conversation repeatedly, even performing the national anthem for his self-created nation (its borders marked by a line of his possessions), all to no avail. After several days Dave has an idea, and shortly thereafter comes into Andrew's house much happier and explains his sudden change of mood: he has hated away his anger at Andrew; all Andrew needs to do is hate away his anger at Dave and things will be back to normal. Andrew refuses, quite content to be angry at Dave. Dave hates away his anger several times as Andrew rebuffs and outright insults him, but his patience finally wears thin, leading Dave to hate away one of Andrew's possessions. Andrew retaliates by hating away one of Dave's possessions, and the situation escalates until everything including the house is hated away.
Dave walks away, assuming the argument is finished, but falls over suddenly as his feet begin to disappear; Andrew is hating them away. He turns and retaliates, hating away Andrew's legs, and the situation escalates again until all that is left of the two are their disembodied heads. Refusing to give up the fight, Andrew and Dave manage to turn themselves and (by bouncing) charge at each other, headbutting each other repeatedly until they finally stop, exhausted. Their anger abated, Dave and Andrew make up, agree to be best friends again, and set off to explore the nothingness. As they bounce away into the white void they remark how they both had always thought that their bodies were somehow holding them back.
In a post-credits scene, an obviously older Dave and Andrew - still disembodied heads - are sleeping when they are awakened by a popping sound, followed by a loud clamoring of voices and noise. As the unseen source of the clamoring gets louder and closer the two scream.
Nothing was directed by the same director as Cube and stars two of the actors from that film. Rather than dealing with the claustrophobic effects of being trapped in a prison-puzzle such as the "cube", Nothing deals with two men wrestling with the claustrophobia of the absolute freedom of an apparently endless world devoid of anything except themselves, their house, and their own minds. As in Cube, this world of nothingness soon produces its own problems, paranoia, and competition between the two. Rich, like the Cube series, in philosophic themes (most notably the skeptical idealism of George Berkeley), Nothing is essentially two acts: the noisy, frustrating, treacherous, backstabbing world before the nothingness, and then Andrew and Dave's life adapting to their newfound nothingness. There is a strong note of misogyny, or at least a distrust in women, in that the film's two main male characters are both set up for crimes they didn't commit by women (in the first "act" of the film). However, rather than becoming further bonded, Andrew and Dave soon turn on each other in what amounts to a dark, pessimistic, if not evocative film. One of the many themes may be that hate leads only to oblivion.