Beatrice (Sarah Polley) works as a researcher at a sensationalist New York City-based media organization, although she is more often than not tasked with making coffee than anything else. Unlike her colleagues, she is shy, soft spoken, and a Plain Jane of a woman. She convinces her cutthroat boss (Dame Helen Mirren) to send her on assignment to Iceland, where one of their camera crews, led by Beatrice's fiancé Jim, has gone missing, they who were investigating eyewitness accounts of what was largely seen as a long held urban myth of a medieval monster. En route to Iceland, Beatrice becomes the sole survivor of the plane crashing, her survival considered a miracle. She is quickly abandoned in Iceland by her boss, as she will not consent to become the media darling to tell the story of the crash, leaving her alone in her long physical and emotional recovery. Beatrice believes her emotional recovery can only be fulfilled by still finding out what happened to Jim, the camera crew who were...Written by
I enjoy Hartley's work. I found _Trust_ absolutely fantastic. I am also thoroughly disenchanted with the media and the society that it greats. What I'm trying to say here is that I wanted to like this movie. However, after sitting through it not once but twice in the same evening, I'm afraid that _No Such Thing_ is subpar at best.
My biggest complaint comes from the script, which feels clipped and constrained in the 100 minutes or so the movie takes. Too often, the story moves us and the characters from one locale or situation to another with little or no explanation how we got there (for example, when the monster is first in an experiment room and then in a filthy alley with no connection between the scenes). The dialogue, usually razor sharp and the highlight of Hartley's films, often falls flat and stops short of articulating the meaningful points that Hartley no doubt understands and desperately wants to communicate. The characterization suffers either from being much to heavy handed (as with Beatrice's boss, who goes so far over the top even satire is offended) to choppy and uneven (as Beatrice herself, who flucuates from nice girl to martyr to party animal to nice girl to martyr without a breath. At least one character (Artaud) had an accent so thick that it was nearly impossible to tell what he was saying (see: _Cold Mountain_), and I get a feeling from what I understood that his character was central to the message of the film.
There were some high points. Burke is fantastic as the monster and provides the most enjoyable moments in the film with his cynical, resigned brand of dark humor and philosophical undertones. I've never met an immortal monster that existed since time began, but if I did, I'd be willing to bet that it would be a lot like this guy.
Polley also does a good job with the bizarre material she's given, especially in the beginning and the end of the film. It is to her credit in the middle that she does not make the script seem ridiculous at all, even though objectively it is.
For the part she gives us, Mirren is also wonderful as Beatrice's cold hearted boss. She's obviously having the time of her life in this role.
Final analysis: this is for Hartley or Polley completists, and not really for anyone else. Another entry in the book of disappointing films.
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