Mister Lonely (2007), Directed by Harmony Korin
I wanted to review a movie I recently watched, Mister Lonely, but I am really not sure what to say. It struck me as following in the surrealist tradition, where literal meaning assigned to objects is not really important. The focus is on the poetic undertones and connotations, as well as ambiguity. The surrealists sometimes claimed that much of their work was do to “automatic” writing, which is a free way of thinking where the work just spills out based loosely on connections. However, much of their work is intentional. The work is usually inundated with images, which makes it even harder for the viewer to process, especially after only one viewing. I do not claim to be familiar with all the literary and cinematographic schools of thought, but I have some knowledge especially of post-modernism, deconstructionism, surrealism, and absurdity, just because I’ve been exposed to these.
So I can’t really review this movie. The premise is an American Michael Jackson impersonator in France falls in love with a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and goes back to the commune where she lives with her Charlie Chaplin impersonating husband and Shirley Temple impersonating daughter, and a handful of other celebrity impersonators, including Abraham Lincoln, the Pope, the Queen of England, and the three stooges. Instead of saying they “impersonate,” the Marilyn Monroe character introduces each one to the Michael Jackson as so and so “who lives as” so and so. There is a toast by the Lincoln character that explains some of why they are who they are. Meanwhile, there is a side story revolving around nuns who jump from airplanes without parachutes after one of them fell out of a plane while dropping food supplies and got up and walked away.
The movie is filled with bitter irony and pyrrhic victories. Just when one good thing seems to be happening, it falls apart. As one character gains self-awareness, something will be taken from them. The Marilyn Monroe character is established as weak fairly early on, as when she says she didn’t impersonate until she met her husband, but he showed her the way. The viewer infers she is in an abusive and controlling relatinoship before we even meet her Charlie Chaplin. The opening scene with the Michael Jackson character is significant for the amount of people who do not even see him dancing in a busy square, let alone those who see but keep walking. The Michael Jackson character seems like the most self-aware and analytical of the characters. He paints each of the others on eggs. The Marilyn Monroe character is just waiting to crack. The side story involving the nuns is even more symbolic and less literal than the A story. I can’t say much without giving it away.
I am still processing this movie and can not adequately review it at this point. But I felt the need to say something, if only to try to work my way through it.