This man (Matt Dillon) is a loving husband and father, and has a respectable job as a cellist in a small orchestra. Everything has gone well for him in life, and he is comfortable in his own skin, but what if someone else would be more comfortable in his place? He has an unwanted chance to contemplate that when, one day after rehearsal, he happens to ask a woman (Daphne Patakia) the time while traveling on the subway. But she doesn’t tell him, she merely repeats the question right back at him...
Director and co-writer Yorgos Lanthimos is a talent who relishes making his characters, and by extension his audience, uncomfortable, and though Nimic was more of a comedy than he would usually deliver, it nevertheless sought to push some buttons in the viewer they may rather not be pushed. As a twelve-minute short, it was understandably not as in depth as his other, feature length efforts, but that was not to say it did not pack a punch, even if it decided against lapsing into horror territory.
Lanthimos had a habit of doing that without often being credited for it, but the mechanisms of fear and disquiet were shot through his canon just as surely as a Dario Argento or Wes Craven. Here the fears were of being replaced, as Dillon played an unexceptional man, who apart from his talent playing cello is largely unremarkable, who discovers that this is not enough to render him vital to the continuation of not only his family life, but of existence in general. When your purpose is removed, what is left of you?
The strange woman also tapped into reactionary opinions that a woman will fail at doing the same job as a man, be that professionally or domestically. There was a whiff of sexism about watching Dillon's replacement getting her foot (or feet) in the door by being more sexually satisfying to his wife (Susan Elle), but elsewhere not fulfilling anything like as much of a level of achievement: her cello playing in particular is dreadful, yet she seems to be applauded for it as much because she is a woman doing it as because nobody noticed the difference.
In the same way that a pet dog would be applauded for performing tricks, she is rewarded in a patronising fashion that she had a go anyway, even if she was a bit rubbish, which does neither gender any favours in the long run. Just as that pet would be given a biscuit for walking on its hind legs, the woman gets an egg to devour, and she's a bit rubbish at eating that too, unnerving in her eagerness to please. Quite where the satire ended and the social commentary began was not too clear, but this director was not about to let us in on his deepest thoughts, he wanted to enter ours, and Nimic was a burst of awkward needling that would play on the thoughts that something was not right, and there was a possibility everything would be ruined because we couldn't identify it, or know what to do about it.