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SxSW Review: MISTER LONELY

Chase Whale

by: Chase Whale
May 2nd, 2008

Rating: 8.5/10

Most people in the skateboarding era circa ’95 know who Harmony Korine is. He wrote the critically acclaimed Kids at just 19. That film dealt with young skateboarders living during the AIDS epidemic. I remember renting it, because I was into skateboarding, and my dad flipping out within the first five minutes of the film. That’s Harmony Korine for you. It’s been eight years since his last film (see why HERE), and now out comes his new masterpiece (co-written by his brother Avy), MISTER LONELY.

With the opening shot of MISTER LONELY, we have Michael Jackson (Diego Luna) riding on a minibike, in slow motion, to Bobby Vinton's Mr. Lonely, with a stuffed monkey tied to the back. It’s cinematic beauty at it’s best (thanks Marcel Zyskind!).

MISTER LONELY tells the story (with beautiful colors) of a Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna) living in Paris. It’s not the normal impersonation that we’re used to. He lives his daily life as Mister Jackson, falls asleep as Mister Jackson, and wakes up as Mister Jackson. You can see where the title of this film comes into play. Living in another man's shadow can push someone into solitude.

When doing a skit at an old folks' home (which was absolutely fabulous), Michael meets a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like, played by the very talented and beautiful Samantha Morton. She assists him on his skit, and then they wander off together. One of the stand-out moments in this is when they tell each other how long they've been who they are; Michael says, “I guess I was born this way,” and Marilyn says, “when I first got my boobs” with a smile.

She persuades him to move to a commune in Scotland where she lives with Charlie Chaplin (her husband), Shirley Temple (daughter), Sammy Davis Jr., The Queen of England, Abe Lincoln, James Dean, Madonna, Buckwheat, The 3 Stooges, Little Red Riding Hood (Harmony's wife Rache), and The Pope; all who live and breath their chosen character. But the story doesn’t stop there.

We are also given a parallel story that involves a preacher (Werner Herzog) and his nuns that jump out of airplanes. When one accidentally falls out of a plane (and lands saftely) while dumping rice over villages, the preacher & co. are convinced that this is what God wants them to do.

I know you’re probably thinking that sounds a bit ridiculous, but randomness has always been a key factor in Harmony's films. And it’s not just a fictional story of flying nuns and look-a-likes, it’s the sense of hope that both stories want us to feel. With his previous films, like Gummo, which left us dirty and lost, MISTER LONELY achieves what it's looking for. Well done, Harmony Korine, well done.

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  • kevin

    i want to ses this

  • Crystal

    i second that

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