No Such Thing

"Weak"

No Such Thing Review


On a cutting room floor somewhere lie 15 to 20 minutes of footage that might have made the metaphorical monster movie "No Such Thing" a trenchant, ironic cultural satire instead of a frustrating misfire.

It's a caustic, deadpan, beauty-and-the-beast comedy that takes wide swipes at Western civilization's social ills and the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality of media-induced modern cynicism -- and does it well up to a point. But just as the story hits its stride, writer-director Hal Hartley ("Flirt," "Henry Fool") fast-forwards through what should be the film's heart.

Innocently intellectual Sarah Polley ("Go," "eXistenZ") stars as Beatrice, a guileless gopher for a cold-hearted TV news producer (a whimsically savage Helen Mirren) who begs and pleads for her big chance to become a reporter by following up on the disappearance of a network news crew in Iceland that included her cameraman fiancé.

Granted her wish, she goes through several tribulations (including a tangential airplane crash that leaves her hospitalized for six months) before becoming a post-modern Little Red Riding Hood who finds herself face-to-face with a misanthropic monster-man (Robert John Burke, "Thinner") on a remote and rocky Icelandic coastline.

He's an immortal, fire-breathing grouch with multiple mismatched horns on his head, gangly hair that flops in his eyes and an unwashed, mix-and-match wardrobe that spans centuries of discarded fashions. He's hated humanity literally forever -- "I remember when you were young," he huffs. "Pond scum. Just ooze on the edge of the warm water." He nonchalantly owns up to killing the news crew -- he's killed thousands over the millennia, so what? But he doesn't know what to make of Beatrice because she's not scared of him. In fact, she likes him. She likes him so much he hopes she might help him die, which has been his only wish for thousands of years.

Burke's performance as the acrimonious monster is a masterpiece of callous, derisive comedy. As a symbol of centuries of human nature run amuck, he seethes with amusing misanthropy and malice toward mankind that only escalates when naive Beatrice becomes a victim of her own sensationalistic network and ends up bringing the beast to New York, where her boss plans to exploit him "as long as he's fashionable."

But when they hit Manhattan, Hartley abandons the quintessence of his story. Just when the monster should be tested by his promise to Beatrice to not kill anyone in the most aggravating city in the word; just when Beatrice should be struggling with her fleeting newfound celebrity; just when the metaphors really start to mean something, the director takes a shorthand approach to all these themes, reducing them to less than 10 minutes of montage footage completely bereft of the depth that was clearly intended.

Why this happens, only Hartley could say. On a small picture such as this it's not as if some baffled studio suit took the film away from him and had it chopped up for mass consumption. But the effect is the same -- the movie is ruined.

It's obvious that there was more to the Manhattan episodes than made it to the screen and the minced remains leave several loose ends to boot. Regardless of the reason for these severe cuts, the soul of "No Such Thing" went with them, and it's a pity because up to that point, the picture was a clever dark delight.



No Such Thing

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th November 2002

Distributed by: United Artists Films/ MGM

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 30

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Beatrice, as Monster, Margrét Ákadóttir as Rental agent, as The Boss, as Dr. Anna, as Dr. Artaud

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Advertisement
Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.