Living in perfect Harmony

Mister Lonely

Diego Luna does a smooth King of Pop.

Diego Luna does a smooth King of Pop.

A Marilyn Monroe look-alike (Samantha Morton) befriends a Michael Jackson impressionist (Diego Luna) in modern-day Paris and persuades him to join her at an impersonator commune in Scotland, whereupon M.J. kicks it with Abraham Lincoln, Charlie Chaplin, Buckwheat and Madonna.

It’s a Harmony Korine film, right?

Yup. And the outsider artist’s latest, Mister Lonely, is, all things considered, a surprisingly conventional tale of unconventionally ruined lives. There are three acts, a main character and what appear to be scripted scenes and dialogue—a major departure for Korine. Only a couple transitory Greek chorus-like vignettes at the conclusion of each act—featuring German filmmaker and Korine pal Werner Herzog as a Catholic missionary—hint at the loose, improvised style of his previous films, Gummo (with its famous kitchen-chair scene) and Julien Donkey-Boy (the memorable rap: “I’m a black albino straight from Alabama …”).

Korine’s maturing as a filmmaker, and the results are favorable. Fans of post-New Wave filmmaking will long for happy accidents, like slow-motion shots of Chloë Sevigny’s bouncy electric-tape-covered nipples in Gummo. But the stuffy European in all of us will admire Korine’s loving attentiveness to each frame: beautifully composed shots (M.J. dancing on a rock in a Scottish bay) and boldly choreographed sequences (skydiving nuns!). Filmgoers that take chances will find Korine’s empathetic storytelling engaging, if at times unobvious and belabored.

The Joe the Plumber crowd, however, will be confused as all hell, which is problematic: Mister Lonely, of all things, is a “Blockbuster Exclusive” DVD, meaning you can only rent it at the hated retailer. Most Korine fans avoid Blockbuster like you could acquire herpes B from membership; Blockbuster renters will fume when Mamma Mia! is sold out and suddenly have to settle on “the cute DVD with Marilyn and M.J. on the cover.”

Oh well. It’s good for them, like steamed bok choy.