No Such Thing

American Zoetrope

Comedy Fantasy Drama
102 min     6     2001     Iceland


Beatrice's fiancé is killed by a monster in Iceland. The monster is immortal, but longs to die. Beatrice helps him achieve this by contacting a scientist who can destroy matter painlessly.


Wuchak wrote:
_**ANNIHILATION of the Wicked!**_ Released in 2001, "No Such Thing" was originally called "Monster," which is the superior title. Why? Because the film's about a literal monster, played by Robert John Burke, who looks like a cross between Satan, a reptile and a grouchy dude. The monster's been alive for millennia and is virtually indestructible. He dwells in bored solitude on an island off the coast of a remote area of Iceland where he occasionally terrorizes the villagers, kills people and blows flames from his mouth. Sarah Polley plays the protagonist, Beatrice, who's assigned the mission of finding out what the "legend" is all about and, after a tragic bypass, meets the monster who stirs her compassion to put him out of his misery. Helen Mirren plays a loathsome news media executive and Julie Christie a doctor who helps rehabilitate Beatrice. Needless to say, this is an odd dramedy/fantasy that's so unique there's really "No Such Movie," which explains the mixed reviews. It successfully meshes the depth of inhuman evil with the height of genuine spirituality with generous does of comedy, drama, satire and tragedy. It comes as no surprise that it's an American Zoetrope picture, the studio founded by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas at the start of the 70s and known for filmmaking expertise that generally eschews 'blockbuster' syndrome. In fact, Coppola is the executive producer. Unfortunately, 'unique' doesn't always mean great. My wife & I viewed "No Such Thing" in 2011 and were somewhat bored, even while there are undeniable entertaining elements, but I viewed it again last night and, while still finding it boring in some ways, I enjoyed it more. For instance, the monster is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and the spiritual parts are palpable. Moreover, I was able to figure out what the film's about, at least in my humble opinion. It's this factor – the film's insightful and fascinating MEANING – that breaks the threshold of greatness and inspires me to rate it as high as I do. See my explanation below for more details. The film runs 1 hour, 42 minutes, and was shot in Iceland and New York City. GRADE: B+ ***SPOILER ALERT*** (DON'T read further unless you've seen the film) Imagine if you could live forever, what would you do? Imagine the potential for growth and learning! You could learn how to travel the cosmos and discover the answers to life's greatest mysteries. Now consider being indestructible and imagine the capacity for being a benign force in the world and universe, destroying evil wherever you go, etc. The monster in the movie possesses these incredible gifts and yet doesn't take advantage of them. All he does is mope around in a hateful, self-pitying fog, drinking booze, cussing people out – or threatening & killing 'em – and wishing he were dead. The monster represents people who are blessed with the gift of life and foolishly squander it on drugs, alcohol and various time-wasters (and I'm not talking about proper r & r, which is healthy); others misuse the gift of life to grumble, hate, slander, steal, abuse, destroy and murder. It's no accident that the creature looks like Satan himself. These types of people are all around us. Now imagine if these miserable, loathsome folks were immortal. What would they be like in a few million years? They'd be like the monster in the movie. The media executive (Mirren) is roughly 60 years old and she's on the same course as the creature, as are other individuals in the story. Beatrice is the Christ-figure who figuratively dies and is resurrected. Like the Messiah, she responds in love to the hate, crime and self-destruction that infects the world. When she meets the monster she observes that there is no hope for him; there's no love in him, no good, no possibility for redemption. The only compassionate thing she can do is assist him in attaining his ultimate desire: destruction. This destruction is a type of the lake of fire or "second death" where the bible says God will "DESTROY both soul and body" (Matthew 10:28). What's the purpose of this "second death"? The Creator is essentially doing what Beatrice does in the film and for the same reasons. If Beatrice is the saintly "Christ-figure" why does she morph into a loose woman who has a one-night-stand at the end? Because she's only a TYPE of Christ and, as such, is still wholly human, possessing the potential for moral failure. She falls after constant contact with the irredeemable creature for an extended period. The apostle Paul put it like so: "Bad company corrupts good character." This explains why Beatrice tells the monster she fears him at the end while simultaneously hugging (loving) him: She needed to carry out her duty -- compassionately putting the creature out of its misery -- because his intrinsic evil was starting to rub off!