out of Five
Running time: 112
Enjoyably weird drama from Harmony Korine with superb performances and a typically brilliant appearance from Werner Herzog.
What's it all about?
Diego Luna stars as a sweet-natured Michael Jackson impersonator who makes his living in the parks of Paris by moonwalking, high-kicking and yelping woo hoo at odd intervals. At a show in a retirement home he meets a Marilyn Monroe lookalike (Samantha Morton), who persuades him to join her in a commune of look-alikes in the Scottish highlands.
As the commune prepares for its first ever gala performance, Michael gets to know the other look-alikes, including Marilyn's possessive husband Charlie Chaplin (Denis Lavant), her daughter Shirley Temple, The Queen (Anita Pallenberg), The Pope (James Fox) and Abraham Lincoln (Richard Strange). Meanwhile, in an apparently unrelated storyline, Werner Herzog plays a drunken missionary who presides over a miracle involving some sky-diving nuns.
This is Harmony Korine's first feature film since Julien Donkey-Boy in 1999 (which also featured a typically brilliant Herzog performance) and his offbeat script captures the air of identity confusion and borderline insanity that seems to be part of the lookalike world. He's helped by terrific performances from Samantha Morton (who's eerily accurate as Marilyn) and Diego Luna, as well as strong support from Denis Lavant (genuinely disturbing as a Chaplin who's stuck in Great Dictator mode) and Richard Strange, who gets several great lines as Lincoln.
The Herzog sequences (which could stand alone as a short film) are superb, with Herzog's wonderful delivery making the most out of lines such as, We are like vomit on the streets outside a seedy bar.
Similarly, the first sky-diving scene (sans parachute) is genuinely breath-taking.
The film loses its way a little in the middle section, perhaps because Luna's character becomes more of an observer, rather than acting on his attraction to Marilyn. It also takes some disturbingly dark twists that essentially kill off the more enjoyable black comedy elements of the first half of the film.
Mister Lonely is an enjoyably weird, superbly acted curiosity that's worth seeing for Herzog alone.