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No Such Thing (2001)

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"No Such Thing" tells the story of a young journalist who journeys to Iceland to find her missing fiancée only to encounter a mythical creature. She eventually forges a relationship with the being.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
The Boss
Dr. Anna
Margrét Ákadóttir ...
Rental agent
Julie Anderson ...
Anna Kristín Arngrímsdóttir ...
Ilene Bergelson ...
Guðrún María Bjarnadóttir ...
Marta (as Guðrún Bjarnadóttir)
Bessi Bjarnason ...
Helgi Björnsson ...
Stacy Dawson ...
Karlsdóttir / Gate-Manager (as María Ellingsen)


Disgusted with human evolution and a society driven by instant gratification and voyeuristic sensationalism, a foul-mouthed Monster kills anyone who crosses his path. When a news crew sent to investigate the Monster disappears, their ratings-obsessed boss sends a guileless young woman to follow up on the story. This young journalist forges an unlikely friendship with the Monster. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A modern day fable.


Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and brief violence | See all certifications »






Release Date:

15 November 2002 (Iceland)  »

Also Known As:

Monster  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$25,324 (USA) (29 March 2002)


$60,006 (USA) (12 April 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Hal Hartley originally wanted Jean-Luc Godard to play the role of The Monster. See more »


When the two men are shot in the airport, the imprint of one of the actors' "blood bag"s can be seen through his shirt. See more »


The Monster: I can't go out there and be expected not to kill anybody.
See more »


References Battleship Potemkin (1925) See more »

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User Reviews

Hartley Fans Rejoice!
9 July 2002 | by (Salem, Oregon) – See all my reviews

As individuals, or collectively as a society, what is it, exactly, that we are afraid of? Since the beginning of time, what has really been behind all those knee-jerk reactions that have brought us to where we are today? These are the questions posed (and answered) by writer/director Hal Hartley in `No Such Thing,' an often biting satire of the news media, the all-to-prevalent-in-our-society tabloid-type mentality and our response to the unknown, be it tangible or imaginary; a film that brings us face to face with fear and confronts it with humor, pathos and Hartley's own insightful and inimitable take on the human condition.

Some time after a three-man television news team disappears after being sent to Iceland to investigate reports of a `monster' living on a rock island just off the coast, the station receives a tape recording from someone claiming to be the monster himself, describing in graphic detail what he did with those dispatched to find and film him. `The Boss (Helen Mirren)' of the news department, in her quest to give the public the `worst news' possible, agrees to send another employee, Beatrice (Sarah Polley), to Iceland to follow up on it, since Beatrice was engaged to the cameraman of the crew gone missing.

After a temporary delay due to circumstances beyond her control, Beatrice finally makes it to Iceland, where she has to trek to a remote village on the coast (the final leg of which she has to walk, as even horses can't make it through). Once there, the locals tell their tales of the `monster,' who has apparently always been with them, and point out to her the rock upon which he is purported to live. And Beatrice finds herself at the point of no return; she has come this far, and now it's just a matter of getting some help from the villagers to get her across the channel to the rock-- and her encounter with this monster who is `changeless and eternal.'

As no one else can, Hal Hartley has crafted and delivered a film that is part `Beauty and the Beast,' part `Frankenstein,' part `Forbidden Planet,' and ALL Hartley. Unlike most films featuring a `monster,' Hartley does not keep his audience in suspense, but reveals his `man/beast' at the very beginning, as we see him making the tape he subsequently sends to the T.V. station. And he's an ugly spud (credit goes to Mark Rappaport for special effects makeup), unique among all of the monsters in cinematic history. Hartley's creation affects a John Wayne countenance, drinks too much and speaks perfect English (how this can be so is ultimately revealed). Hartley then layers one unexpected event upon another, using black comedy to present a scathing social commentary, incisively composed through his keen insights into human nature. The allegory of the tale is concealed in who this monster really is, and what he wants, and it brings to mind Dr. Morbius and the secrets of the Krell.

Absent in this film is the trademark cadence Hartley generally has his actors employ through a very deliberate delivery of their lines, and it is missed, as it is one of the elements that makes his films so engaging, creating as it does a fairly hypnotic effect (similar to the method employed by David Mamet in his films). Still, the Hartley magic is alive and well, and by keeping his volatile monster front and center throughout the film, rather than as a mysterious entity hidden in the shadows to whom he merely alludes, he succeeds in keeping his audience totally involved. Hartley is also a master of `thinking outside the box,' which enables him to offer entirely unique perspectives on the human condition and this thing we call `life'; you never know where he's going to take you, which is another reason why his films are so engaging (as this one certainly is). He knows how to make that all-important connection with his audience, but he chooses to do it indirectly, offering thought-provoking scenarios in a way that gives his viewer the option of coming on board or standing by while the ship sails; a kind of `you can lead a horse to water,' proposition that most filmmakers would not have the courage to employ. Keep in mind, though, that once you hit the deck with Hartley, the rewards are many and great.

Working with Hartley for the first time, Sarah Polley proves to be a quick study in all things Hartley; in creating Beatrice, she demonstrates an innate grasp of his methods, and most importantly, what it is he is attempting to accomplish through his characters. And this has to be a challenge to any actor; just as not every actor can work with Woody Allen because of his approach, it would seemingly be difficult with Hartley because of his unique perspectives. Whatever the case may be, Polley succeeds splendidly, presenting a convincing character who is decidedly all `Hartley.'

Helen Mirren, too, demonstrates her versatility and consummate professionalism by falling into Hartley's rhythms with apparent facility. The role of `The Boss' is something of a departure for Mirren, but she immerses herself in the character with gusto and makes The Boss believable. And she seems to be enjoying herself immensely in doing so. A terrific actor, she's a joy to watch in this one.

As the monster, Hartley regular Robert John Burke steals the show by creating a monster that is so stunningly atypical; this beast has a fearless swagger and the wisdom of millennia to back it up. Burke readily conveys his disdain for human beings with terms and a tone that fairly drips with cynicism, and it is in his portrayal that we find both the real humor and the pathos of the film.

The supporting cast includes Baltasar Kormakur (Artaud), Julie Christie (Dr. Anna) and Stacy Dawson (Mugger). Off-beat and entertaining, `No Such Thing' is a unique experience that is going to make you think a bit. 9/10.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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