Sunday, April 11, 2021

#2,551. No Such Thing (2001)


A dark yet surprisingly sweet fantasy, writer / director Hal Hartley’s No Such Thing tells the story of Beatrice (Sarah Polley), a wannabe reporter who travels to a remote region of Iceland to search for her missing boyfriend. Eventually, she discovers that he and two other people were killed by a monster (Robert John Burke) that claims to have been around since the dawn of time.

Taking pity on the Monster, Beatrice agrees to help him end his miserable life, though it seems the only person on earth capable of accomplishing this feat is Dr. Artaud (Balthasar Kormakur), whose whereabouts are unknown.

Beatrice’s former boss (Helen Mirren), a media powerhouse, agrees to help them track down Artaud in exchange for the exclusive rights to their story. Beatrice and the Monster agree, only to find themselves unwitting pawns in something much bigger than either of them anticipated.

No Such Thing is as much Beatrice’s film as it is the Monster’s; Sarah Polley is delightfully understated in the lead role, and her adventures before meeting the monster are memorable, to say the least (at one point, she undergoes an intense operation on her spine, arguably the most terrifying sequence in the entire film).

Equal to her is Burke as the Monster, whose hatred of the modern world has turned him into an alcoholic. His dialogue is often quite funny, yet the lion’s share of the laughs are generated by Mirren, portraying a character so committed to dredging up bad news that she’s willing to risk anything – even the lives of innocent people - if it will generate headlines.

No Such Thing does occasionally lose its way, especially late in the movie, when it tries (and fails) to make a grand statement about the media, government, and society’s declining values, but that aside, I found it an entertaining watch. And keep an eye out for Julie Christie, who has a small role as Beatrice’s surgeon.
Rating: 7 out of 10

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