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Film / Mister Lonely

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Mister Lonely is a 2007 Independent Drama written and directed by Harmony Korine. A (comparatively) straightforward outing for the notoriously opaque filmmaker, it tells the story of a lonely Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna) living in Paris. Confused, adrift, and terrified of death, he happens to meet the acquaintance of a cheery, idealistic Marilyn Monroe impersonator (Samantha Morton), who invites him back to her castle in the Scottish Highlands, where she and a whole clan of celebrity impersonators live in peace and harmony...mostly.

Meanwhile, a Priest (Played by Korine-regular Werner Herzog) and a handful of Nuns operating in an unnamed Banana Republic discover a peculiarity that just may be Divine Intervention.

Boasting Korine's largest budget yet, and the first of his movies to feature his wife, Rachel Korine, Mister Lonely bears little resemblance to anything else in the Writer-Director's filmography. Where he would go next, however...


This Film Provides Examples of the Following:

  • Bastard Husband: Charlie, to Marilyn. Becomes so jealous of Michael he leaves Marilyn to burn while she's sleeping and sunbathing, just to spite her.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Buckwheat seems malignly obsessed with chickens...
  • The Cameo: Two of Korine's idols; Werner Herzog, who'd previously appeared in Julien Donkey-Boy, and Leos Carax, who's Les Amants du Pont-Neuf Korine cited as an inspiration. Also cast is Carax's frequent leading man, Denis Lavant.
  • Celebrity Impersonator: Most of the cast, discounting the side-movie with the Nuns. Other than Michael and Marilyn, includes: Charlie Chaplin (Denis Lavant), Madonna (Melita Morgan), Little Red Riding Hood (Rachel Korine), Abraham Lincoln (Richard Strange), Shirley Temple (Esme Creed-Miles), and others. Harmony Korine was inspired by the "Obsessive Nature" of Celebrity Impersonators.
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  • Charlie Chaplin Shout-Out: One of the impersonators is dressed up like Chaplin.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Highlands Commune.
  • Creator Breakdown: Korine: "I'd been making movies since I was virtually a kid, and it had always come very easily. At a certain point after the last movie, I started to have this general disconnect from things. I was really miserable with where I was. I began to lose sight of things and people started to become more and more distant. I was burnt out, movies were what I always loved in life and I started to not care. I went deeper and deeper into a dark place and to be honest movies were the last thing I was thinking about - I didn't know if I was going to be alive. My dream was to evaporate. I was unhealthy. Whatever happened during that time, and I won't go into the details, maybe it was something I needed to go through." Mister Lonely has been said to be his working through all that.
  • Death by Irony: After all those times jumping out of planes without a parachute, it's a plane crash that kills all the Nuns.
  • Driven to Suicide: Marilyn. One of the more shocking examples of the trope, as there's absolutely no warning.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: Unusual in that there are only two parallel storylines, but the A-Plot involving the Celebrity Impersonator commune and the B-Plot involving the Skydiving Nuns are cut-between so evenly there's a bit of waiting for both of them.
  • Genki Girl: Marilyn. This is a carefully constructed pose.
  • Godwin's Law: "Y'know, Charlie, sometimes when I look at you, you seem more like Adolf Hitler than Charlie Chaplin."
  • Hope Spot: All are depressed after the near-disastrous show, and then they all start to burst into song with "Cheek to Cheek". ...And then they find Marilyn's body.
  • Let's Put On A Show!: Despite their efforts, almost no one shows up...
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Korine's previous work, and ESPECIALLY compared to the subsequent Trash Humpers.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Marilyn for Michael, to Charlie's jealous consternation.
  • No Name Given / Only Known by Their Nickname: None of the impersonators ever reveal their given names. It's almost as if they've abandoned them.
  • Oddball in the Series: In addition to sporting very few of Korine's usual quirks, it's his only film not set in the United States or dealing with "The American Landscape", as he calls it.
  • Scenery Porn: The Highlands and the unnamed nation the Nuns work in.
  • Shout-Out: Unusually for Korine, after the show there is a single shot of the camera spinning around the bitter and annoyed Impersonators that is obviously an homage to This Is Spın̈al Tap. Also, Roger Ebert says that there is a shot of a plane taking off "which you will have to be very, very familiar" with the filmography of Werner Herzog to notice.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Abe Fucking Lincoln. Also Charlie.
  • Title Card: All of Michael's episodes are titled after a particular Michael Jackson song ("Man in the Mirror", "Thriller", etc.)
  • To Soon-To-Be Absent Friends: "And so, tonight, my friends, I propose that we should get drunk on behalf of our fallen comrades in the pastures, whose lives shall soon cease". Bear in mind they are, in fact, talking about their sheep.
  • Unusual Euphemism: To "Do it to" women, Father Umbrillo's term for sex.
  • We All Die Someday: A major theme of the film. At the beginning Michael is performing at a Retirement Home, telling them all that they can live forever if they really believe they can, as if trying to convince himself. Later all the Impersonators react with such horror at the prospect of their entire flock of sheep having to be put down, it's likely it reminds them of their own mortality. And finally, Marilyn's suicide eventually forces Michael to deal with his fear of death head-on, allowing him to overcome it.
  • Wham Shot: Marilyn hanging from a tree.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: The rest of the Impersonators, after Marilyn commits suicide and Michael leaves.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Michael's recorded "Dear World and Everyone In It" monologue. It works well enough for Michael, but when you consider the details of Harmony Korine's life, it takes on added resonance. There's really no reason why it couldn't have begun as a personal journal entry by Korine himself.
  • You Are Not Alone: The name of the last Title Card, after the Michael Jackson song of the same name. Arguably the other major theme of the film.


Example of: