Nothing Really Happens, written and directed by Justin Petty, is one of the weirdest and most surreal films that you may ever see in your life… but that might not be a good thing. Although this movie is sure to pick up its fair share of fans (and possibly even an eventual cult following), it takes bizarre to a new, almost incomprehensible level.
This film follows the owner of a mattress store who begins to experience anomalies in his life that make him question his reality and strain his relationships with friends and family. Billed as a spin on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this movie is similarly odd and also has a lot on its mind, but it fails to deliver that commentary effectively because it lacks the heart that made the aforementioned film work so well.
Another reason why Nothing Really Happens falls apart is that it does not explain its mythology well enough. Although the movie seems to be trying to keep the audience in the dark about what is really happening (maybe nothing?) for a majority of its runtime, when it is finally explained, it feels underbaked and unsatisfying, and as a result, the film doesn’t really earn its comparisons to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
The humor is also somewhat frustrating. Although there are a handful of funny moments in the movie, those come early on and the same gags are just repeated over and over again. While the film does succeed in using this to make you feel uncomfortable, it isn’t enjoyable by any means. This movie’s sense of humor is the very definition of one-note, and it gets very old really quickly.
Also disappointing is the film’s character development. The protagonist is the only character who is given a legitimate personality. All of the supporting characters feel flat and archetypal. However, even the protagonist has very little with which we can sympathize. The only element of his story that is particularly compelling is his experience with the mattress store, but unfortunately, that is played off as nothing more than a joke.
The lead actor, Adam Edwards, is actually quite talented. It’s just a shame that his talent is put to waste in a movie that makes very little sense. Edwards seems perfectly cast in a role in which he is spiraling into insanity. What makes his performance even more impressive is that this is his first role. He has a lot of charm and a natural on-screen presence. Maybe he has a future as an actor in psychological horror films.
On a technical level, the movie is definitely ambitious, especially for an independent production. The primary function of the visuals and soundtrack seems to be to disorient the audience, and in this regard, it is a rousing success. That said, the film does go beyond disorientation a few times and becomes headache-inducing, which is never a fun time.
Some people may think that Nothing Really Happens is brilliant if they are able to decipher it. Most audiences will see it for what it is, though, a confusing but ambitious sci-fi movie that could have used a lot more streamlining and polish to be what it wanted to be.
Nothing Really Happens is now available on VOD.