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Mister Lonely 

Directed by Harmony Korine (Paradox

Ever wonder what'd happen if Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln and the Three Stooges lived together? Harmony Korine did. The controversial writer/director's latest film features a commune populated by sadly committed impersonators of the aforementioned celebrities, and other luminaries, like Buckwheat. Everyone on the commune does a lot of boring chores---in costume, naturally. (Elsewhere, in a thematically similar but unrelated story, blue-garbed nuns jump parachute-less from planes, and survive.) The film works best when Korine treats his deluded impersonators sympathetically: as the nut-balls mount a hammy showcase they've earnestly cobbled together and unironically dubbed "The Greatest Show on Earth," you hope that childlike "Michael" (Diego Luna), "Marilyn" (Samantha Morton) and company will play to a packed house. But ultimately, Mister Lonely isn't about characters, it's about vague, important Ideas, like faith and identity. And those Ideas aren't persuasively expressed. Presumably, Korine had high-minded symbolism in mind when he assembled his iconic cast of characters, but it never comes across. Instead he ended up making an odd, visually interesting film that mostly feels like a fantasy episode of The Surreal Life.

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Vol 26, No 43
March 21, 2019

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