In Nowhere Special, single dad John spends his last few months trying to find the perfect home for Michael after his death.
Thirty-something John is a good dad. A great dad, even. A single parent, after his son’s mother left them behind, his son Michael is his mini-me. They do everything together, hand- in-hand against the world. In a just and fair world that beautiful bond would get to continue for years to come. But, as this last year has proven ten-fold, this world isn’t just – or fair at all. John is dying and he’s spending his last few months trying to find the perfect home for Michael after his death.
That’s all we really get to know about Michael and John. It’s all we really need to know. They’re each other’s worlds, it’s written in every word and utterance, exposed in every movement and gesture. We follow the pair as they visit household after household in search of the right fit to adopt Michael. To compare it to Goldilocks would be blithe, undermining the heartache we bear witness to. To four-year old Michael, these visits are meetings with ‘new friends’ who are, unbeknownst to him, interviewing for the role of his future parents. For John, they’re screening interviews to help ensure Michael will have the right people to look after him when his father has gone, and he’s left all alone in the world.
Norton’s performance is extraordinary here; authentically and heartbreakingly conveying a man who knows the time he has left is running out. Whilst most of us live our lives believing we have a currency made up of years and decades, John knows he’s dealing with days and weeks – whilst all too aware of the fact that might not be enough to do what he can to protect the only person that matters to him. There are moments where Norton manages to express this with just a look, a calm and detached survey of his son – memorising the details of the most precious thing in the world.
As his illness, which remains undisclosed, increasingly encroaches and impedes on his day-to-day life, he continues to see echoes of the versions of his son he will not get to see and the stages and events of that upcoming life at which he will not get to be. The result is a painfully empathetic character study that is heart- breaking yet beautiful. A quietly moving gem that’s well worth seeking out.
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