It’s been years since Harmony Korine burst upon the scene with Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy, two expressionistic collages that straddled the line between prankster cinema and poetry. What was refreshing about those films was that there was almost nothing else like them out there, and Mister Lonely starts out in a similarly bold, almost vaudevillian style, announcing itself as a Korine film the moment you see a Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna) strutting his stuff on the streets of Paris. At a retirement home, entertaining the elderly as they croak along to his enthusiastic singing, he meets his match in a fetching Marilyn Monroe imitator (Samantha Morton). Their dialogue scenes seem like it was written using a child’s crayon, which perhaps accounts for why the romance feels so pure. The unrelated subplot about skydiving nuns and a padre (Werner Herzog) trying to fly them to Rome to have a drink with the Pope contains vivid images (how can you go wrong with skydiving nuns?), but the main narrative of Monroe and Jackson traveling to a Scottish isle to join a talent show featuring other impersonators feels like a parade of skits. The pleasure of Korine’s films is in their free-form narrative style, but once we’re on the island, Mister Lonely gets stuck and begins to feel repetitive. While the film falls short in comparison to his other films, Korine remains one of the most innovative and surprising new voices in American cinema. As a champion for the beautiful and the strange, I’ll take bottom-shelf Korine over just about anything else currently playing in theaters.
- IFC Films
- 112 min
- Harmony Korine
- Harmony Korine, Avi Korine
- Diego Luna, Samantha Morton, Denis Lavant, Werner Herzog, James Fox, Anita Pallenberg, Rachel Korine, Leos Carax, Richard Strange
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: