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Mister Lonely | Review

Looney Tunes: Madonna, Michael and Marilyn get weirdo treatment via Korine.

It would be fair assessment to think that every individual has wished at some time or another that he or she could spend a day in someone else’s shoes. The true query is when this notion is taken to the extreme. After freakshow turns with Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy, Harmony Korine’s long awaited return turns towards talent shows. Featuring a core of oddball personalities interpreted by the likes of Diego Luna, Samantha Morton, Denis Lavant and Werner Herzog (who plays a fun-loving Anglican rep), this Un Certain Regard selection is indeed a nutty confection that unfortunately finds no needs in bothering to try exploring topical questions on identity and uniqueness within a larger society. Heavy on delusional and minimal on sagacity, Mister Lonely is simply too much of an anomaly and as a result demands potential audiences to muster a great deal of patience for an entire sit through.

Commencing with a hypnotic slow-motion shot of a signature looking pop-icon riding a mini-bike on a speedway, this sees famous people impersonators who co-exist with livestock in a far away land awaiting their big day: a talent show. Luna plays the protag – a Michael Jackson impersonator who is great with MJ’s dance moves but whose solitary existence means that once a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like enters his picture the power of one becomes the power of plenty. The Paris setting offers quirky moments and potentially gives this film a lead to follow, but the setting is quickly displaced to a Scotland setting that is far too abstract. Interjected without reason is a parallel tale featuring nuns and a Herzog in front of the camera in fine form. A laughable five minute ad-libbed routine as a priest with moral obligations is about the only scene worth mentioning, the film’s combined other performances come across like nauseating performance art.

How Korine managed to lasso a fine foursome of players is perhaps less of an enigma than what these names are asked to do. While many viewers are fine with nuns falling out of a sky, watching talented actors in such an irregular, no-logic fantasy scenarios proves difficult and simply monotonous and regrettably Korine fails to explore the possible connections of each character’s connection to the person they are pretending to be.

The darker corners of the film fail to bring drama to the absurdest template and the lack of allegorical connotations means it greatly diminishes the likeliness of connecting with any of the players or images. Void of anything to say, this is a sufferable piece of schlep.

May 22 Cannes Film Festival: Un Certain Regard section

Rating 0 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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