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Mister Lonely (2007)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 14 March 2008 (UK)
In Paris, a young American who works as a Michael Jackson lookalike meets Marilyn Monroe, who invites him to her commune in Scotland, where she lives with Charlie Chaplin and her daughter, Shirley Temple.


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2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jason Pennycooke ...
Melita Morgan ...
Nigel Cooper ...
Mal Whiteley ...


In Paris, a young American who works as a Michael Jackson lookalike meets Marilyn Monroe, who invites him to her commune in Scotland, where she lives with Charlie Chaplin and her daughter, Shirley Temple.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

14 March 2008 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Imitátorok  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$9,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$16,769 (USA) (2 May 2008)


$165,831 (USA) (1 August 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


In an interview with a newspaper in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn., Harmony Korine stated that he made several trips to Iceland to scout locations for the film. He ended up ditching that idea altogether and shooting the film in Scotland and France. See more »


The shape of the nuns' parachutes are visible as they are falling from the plane. See more »


Marilyn Monroe: [to Charlie Chaplin] Sometimes when I look at you, you seem more like Adolf Hitler than Charlie Chaplin.
See more »


Featured in Brows Held High: Spring Breakers (2014) See more »


What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Music by Charles Crozat Converse and lyrics by Joseph M. Scriven
Performed by Willie Sutherland and Frank Coutts
Licensed courtesy of Hunters Promotions Ltd
Published by Public Domain
See more »

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User Reviews

a breath of fresh air from the nostrils of zeus?
25 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A mask can be a disguise or an aspiration. An instrument of ritual. An imitation of greater hopes, that we might become more like our image. Magical, incantatory. The earliest theory of art itself, as Susan Sontag has pointed out, is one of mimesis, an imitation of reality (or 'a reality').

Who doesn't know that feeling, after putting on a new suit and tie, or perfecting one's make-up. Feeling like a new person. Going out to face the world with refreshed persona. Thomas Carlyle, that great Scottish author of Heroes and Superheroes, champion of the value of role models, suggested that, "A man lives by believing something." By believing in something we can become more than what we are, or become a different type of person. Or we can simply find ourselves out of place, wearing a suit that doesn't fit. Pretending to be someone we're not.

Mister Lonely has two main threads. There is Diego Luna – best known for his great performance in Y Tu Mamá También – who is a Michael Jackson impersonator and hangs out with other impersonators. Then there is Werner Herzog – best known for his work behind the camera – who leads a troupe of nuns in Africa. The impersonators stay in character 24 hrs a day. They include Samantha Morton as Marilyn Monroe (in an awesome dress by celebrated fashion designer agnès b.) and other people impersonating the likes of Charlie Chaplin, James Dean and Abe Lincoln (we never learn the characters' real names).

If you haven't twigged the connection, perhaps you are familiar with some devout Christians who ask themselves, in a difficult situation, "What would Jesus do?" That maybe works better as a role model in determining a moral dilemma than it would, say, if the answer might involve walking on water. And while impersonators might do well in street theatre, how excited would you be to see the 'Greatest Show on Earth' that starred not Michael, Charlie or HM the Queen but . . . impersonators? I can't tell you more about the story without giving away the ending, which again points up the similarity of inspiration and obsession in both narratives but, if you are a lover of quirky cinema, Mister Lonely might well be for you.

Mister Lonely has quirky written all over it. It is directed by Harmony Korine, who won awards for his Dogme95 feature, Julien Donkey-Boy, and for his screenplay for Larry Clark's Kids. Korine once tried to make a film by engaging random people in actual street fights - until he was hospitalised. Something to do with being prepared to die for his art. He seems interested in mental illness, dysfunctional childhoods, symbolism, and an innovative approached to film. Hopefully that will put off people who don't like films like that. Indeed, Mister Lonely can easily be read as disconnected and insubstantial if you like more solid fare.

Mister Lonely is deeply original, strange and yet accessible. There are points of touching emotion – in an old people's home, for instance, as Michael and Marilyn evoke unfeigned warmth from what are most probably non-actors. Then there is the threefold face – the actor, the character and the impersonation – and we search for the glimmers of sadness or the 'real person' behind the manufactured facade. As they strive never to act in any way other than their alter-egos, it forms a tender bond with the audience when their feelings become apparent.

I particularly enjoyed Samantha Morton's performance. I had never been a big fan of her early work, but she seems to have injected new life and vigour into every project she has tackled since her reported stroke in 2006. Although she was always a competent actress, it is her work in films such as this, or Control, that has moved me to the core and left me speechless. It is as if she has somehow scaled the heights of her own aspiration as an actress and achieves something that is beyond her own mortal limits.

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