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

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

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.