Opus Zero. Paul (Willem Dafoe) is an American composer whose life’s work has been dedicated to the completion of an unfinished symphony from the early 20th century by the little-known Alexander Grondahl. When Paul’s estranged father dies, he travels to the remote Mexican village of Real de Catorce to settle his affairs. As Paul searches through his father’s belongings he comes across a photograph of a young woman who was friends with his father many years earlier.
Paul determines to find this woman, Marianne, to return the photograph and perhaps make some meaningful connection with his father through her. Using a prototype ‘real-time’ translation device his father invented, Paul ambles through the pueblo mágico of Real de Catorce asking bemused locals for the whereabouts of Marianne. What begins as a gesture of kindness to his late father’s friend soon becomes an inquiry into the strange nature of memory.
As Paul continues his search, a three-person film crew arrives in town looking to complete a documentary, which they describe as a ‘story of opposites’. Daniel (Andrés Almeida) and Fernanda (Cassandra Ciangherotti) piece together seemingly unconnected vignettes of village life, unaware that a miracle is about to be gifted to them.
Paul and Daniel eventually cross paths in the enigmatic village and the result is an intellectual joust staged within an ancient amphitheatre, domineered by Paul whose deliberately enigmatic answers only serve to confuse Daniel further. At a crucial point in the interview, Daniel’s camera battery dies and the young filmmaker is left to piece together the answers he so desperately wanted from Paul.
In a coda, Paul possibly imagines a farewell to his father, a farewell without an ending. As he explained to Daniel, though the work stops, it doesn’t end.