Good and evil, love and hate collide in this captivating adventure from award-winning director Hal Hartley. Starring Sarah Polley (The Claim), Robert John Burke (Robocop 3), Academy Award® nominee* Helen Mirren (Gosford Pa... more »rk) and Academy Award® winner** Julie Christie (Dr. Zhivago), No Such Thing is a provocative and deeply moving film thatwill change the way you look at the world. New York journalist Beatrice (Polley) travels to Iceland to find a monster (Burke) believed to have killed her fiancé. Once she meets the beast, he opens her eyes to the horror of his existencehe has witnessed history from the dawn of time. Moved to help him, Beatrice takes the monster to New York. But when a media firestorm erupts, Beatrice realizesher monster is more than he appears to be and the world may not be ready for the truth. *Supporting Actress, Gosford Park (2001); Supporting Actress, The Madness of King George (1994). **Actress, Darling (1965).« less
Sarah F. (Ferdy63) from DALTON, GA Reviewed on 11/4/2008...
Sarah Polley plays the innocent young "Beauty" in this adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. When her boyfriend, a news photographer, goes missing, she sets off to find him. She survives one hardship after another and finally finds the "beast" who killed her boyfriend. The beast turns out to be more like a bitter old monster who's tired of his immortality and fed up with the gawking humans who have hounded his existence. He tries to scare the young woman away but she wants to help him by getting him out into the world again. In the end, they both end up being spectacles in a media circus and he is proven right in his assesment of humanity. Helen Mirren is wonderful as Sarah's boss. It's very tongue in cheek and very pointed in its mockery of modern media.
5 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
The trouble with satire
E Rice | western ny state | 11/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"is that it needs a sophisticated, well-informed audience, able to make connections without large neon arrows, and aware of nuance. intelligence helps. i originally watched this film because it was set in iceland. i watched it a second time, and am buying the dvd, because of all the subtle, quiet bits of staging, the wonderful dialogue, its absurdity, the quality of the performances, and the density of meaning and references--not only the obvious, but possibly the obscure: does this scene reference morality plays? does the movie satirize quest legends?this film reminds me of a review the author dick francis once got--the reviewer said that francis leaves much unsaid but nothing unexpressed.if you prefer to actively participate in a performance, to have your mind as well as your emotions engaged, this is a film you will enjoy. if every motivation and action has to be explained to you by several minutes of dialogue, look somewhere else."
We Need Our Monsters, Whether We Like it or Not
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 06/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't remember how this film ended up in my hands (maybe a friend recommended it), but I won't ever let it go now. There is endless speculation here at Amazon.com about "what this films meanings are", and after viewing it several times, I might (and that's an awfully big "MIGHT") be able to add my two cents. But first, let me tell you briefly what this sucker's all about:
Beatrice (Sarah Polley), a nobody reporter for an obscure media magnate, is sent to Iceland to speak with the natives of a distant village about their belief that an ancient monster lives in an abandoned missile silo somewhere near their dwellings. On her way to Iceland many strange things happen to Beatrice: her purse gets stolen by a dark and sinister looking female drug addict, shadows lurk around corners, and Beatrice begins to feel that evil is not too far away from her. And she's right. Her plane crashes into the Atlantic Ocean and she is the only survivor. After many, many months of therapy (and going through an oddball spinal operation that involves excruciating pain that causes her to black out), she's finally able to make it to the Icelandic village ...and soon discovers that the monster is REAL!
Robert John Burke (Robo Cop 3 and Tombstone) plays the monster who's been around since "humans crawled out of the primordial ooze." He's a sarcastic, burned out monster who's only hope is that he'll die one of these millennia and be put out of his misery of watching the human race devour itself. He's an excellent character who you just love listening to, his voice a slow cadence contained within a body who's personality swings from depression to wrath in the blink of an eye. And when Beatrice offers to help him end his life of suffering, he reluctantly agrees to go along with her (nothing has worked up until this point, so the monster has serious doubts that anyone can kill him).
When Beatrice brings him back to civilization, a media frenzy ensues. A REAL monster! Newspapers, TV, radio, they're eating it up! But the monster doesn't want any of that. He wants to be away from these gnats of humanity. But even more sinister things are afoot. The military wants to examine him to find out why he's so indestructible. The media wants to make a "Beauty and the Beast" story out of him and Beatrice. And terrible people are using their fear of him to do awful things to the monster (like beating him up and peeing on him).
Finally, Beatrice finds a scientist who proposes his method of ending the monsters existence. And a rush to end his life before anyone can stop them takes place. Can science really kill our monsters? What happens if you kill off the last monster in the world? Can we live without them?
The amazing thing about this film is that it makes you think, laugh, cry, and shiver, often in the same scene. Incredible scripting.
So what about my two cents? I think this films main focus is on the monsters in our lives and how we perceive them, and what would happen if we killed them all off. It would change the very fabric of who we are. Could you imagine a world without Dracula? Or Frankenstein? Or that little furry monster that lived under you bed when you were eight years old? What would happen to us if they never existed in our thoughts and imaginations? Is THAT a more terrible fate than actually having a real one living in an abandoned missile silo?
As crazy as this concept may sound, the movie gives implicit meaning to it by showing us Beatrice's encounter with the drugged-out purse stealer, her plane crash, her suffering through horrific pain during spinal surgery, and her eventual understanding of how important some demons are in our lives.
A fantastic film. A+"
Love him or hate him
B. Bosaiya | 07/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There really isn't any middle ground with Hartley. The best parts of Lynch and Mamet combined in one strange intelligent package. People either love him or hate him, both with good reason.No Such Thing closely follows the rythm and pacing of Hartley's Amateur, itself an almost perfect film in my opinion. You will not find traditional Hollywood motifs in this movie (or his others). The setups and payoffs are subtle. The emotions are often conveyed through a word or a glance, as opposed to a bullhorn directed at the audience. Subtlety over brute force is his preferred approach.No Such Thing contains many levels of myth, fable and parable. From the obvious references to such classics as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast (NOT the Disney versions), to more esoteric nods, this film delivers in ways that most others simple could not. Watching Hellen Mirren's character transform before us in the blink of an eye in such a believeable way was breathtaking. There was no rousing score directing the viewer towards the appropriate emotional conclusion. There was no arrogant buildup of camera work, no amazingly contrived series of scenes leading the viewer like crumbs of bread. Some people enjoy being led along and enjoy being rewarded for picking up on the "subtle" clues left in typical movies. They will starve here.Although I am a huge fan of Hartley's work, I'll be the first to admit that he's not for everyone. It's no surprise at all to me that the critics didn't love the movie, it's very difficult to compartmentalize it in a neat and orderly fashion when you have to sit through five movies a day and regurgitate one-line reviews. And it's no surprise that a lot of viewers didn't like it. Where's the special effects? Where's the machine-gun chattering dialogue? Where's the over-the-top violence and cmaera work of today's Hollywood blockbusters? All are absent, and if that's what you like you'll be sorely disappointed with this. There are a mind-numbingly huge number of movies out there that follow the mould, people shouldn't have trouble finding something they like, but there are prescious few films out there like Hartley's. Maybe that's a good thing, they are all the more appreciated by those who enjoy them.If you found Twin Peaks to be unfathomably boring and The Spanish Prisoner to be rudely unintelligible, stay away from Hartley. If you're looking for a movie that will set you free from the conventional restraints of Hollywood dreck, look no further."
A really cool movie
the_photographer | Charlotte, NC | 07/16/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While it gets kind of off-track in places and the performances of some of the cast are B-grade; this is still one of the best movies I've seen in a few years.Burke gives an outstanding performance as a monster as old as time who is board to the point of madness. He's an alcoholic and an insomniac - but who wouldn't be. He has seen everything and there's no end in sight for him.The monster ends up in New York with the fiancé of a reporter that he had recently ripped to pieces; and the media feeding frenzy begins. This is where the acting gets a bit cheesy (but tolerable) and the story takes some unnecessary turns.In New York, the monster finds the one human being who can grant the monster's only desire, but they have to get back to Iceland before the military gets its hands on them.We figure out at the end that the monster isn't what he thinks he is and his one wish is granted in a way other than what he anticipated....[Note the meaning of the magnifying lenses].It's not a wholly original story, but it is told in an original way.You will probably not like this movie if you are not familiar with and enjoy the screen-play style of foreign films."
Only-A-Child | 06/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Imagine that the original "Outer Limits" folks remade "King Kong" in their standard monster style and you have a good idea of "No Such Thing's" look and feel. Then throw in a little "Mighty Joe Young" banter, "Beauty and the Beast fashions", and "The Song of Bernadette" for good measure.
The film is a stylistic masterpiece and the banter between the beast and Beatrice (Sarah Polley) is surreal comedy at its best. If you enjoy quirky and subtly off-kilter films then the superficial story of "No Such Thing" will be a real pleasure in itself. Don't let frustration over the underlying meaning ruin the fun during the first viewing-just go with it.
The DVD does not contain a director's commentary so the viewer is left to speculate on just what this thing is really about; what themes Hartley is serious about and to what degree the obvious themes are just there for parody and laughs.
My retrospective take is that it is about the interplay of evolution and intelligent design, with the monster an artifact left over from creation. God created the monster, knowing that humankind needs fear for motivation. He expected us to have evolved beyond fear and hate of each other long before now, creating a need for the monster as a tangible fear factor. But this did not happen, making the monster irrelevant and God disillusioned with humankind. Both he and the monster are bored with the stupidity they see.
God decides to intervene so the monster can go away and be put out of it's misery. He chooses Beatrice for this mission and she goes through a miracle survival experience to heighten her appreciation for life and to give her a distanced perspective free of fear and hate. Sarah Polley is perfectly cast as Beatrice; her Beatrice is somehow both detached and expressive. If you enjoy Polley you will love this character.