AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2010
By Don Simpson | November 17, 2010
Director: Tim Cox
Writer(s): Doug Steinberg
Starring: Leslie Bibb, Adam Goldberg, Kathy Baker, Missi Pyle, Brandon Routh
Sarah Jane McKinney (Leslie Bibb) begins Miss Nobody as a nobody — a miss nobody, if you will — as a secretary at Judge Pharmaceuticals. Sarah Jane applies for a significant promotion and with a few resume “enhancements” she gets it, but before she moves into her new office she is usurped by Milo (Brandon Routh) and Sarah Jane becomes Milo’s secretary. At the urging of her best friend and fellow secretary, Charmaine (Missi Pyle), Sarah Jane decides to make a play for Milo (if she cannot be the boss, she might as well be the boss’ wife). Milo bites, but Sarah Jane promptly learns that Milo is already engaged. Milo is thus killed by an umbrella. With a statue of Saint George (do not ask) looking out for her, Sarah Jane promptly murders her way to the top of the corporate ladder of Judge Pharmaceuticals — apparently without even the slightest tinge of guilt or regret. Bill Malloy (Adam Goldberg) is the detective assigned to investigate the strange murders at Judge Pharmaceuticals; he also rents a room at Sarah Jane’s house and is her love interest…oy vey!
Quite simply, Miss Nobody is about a woman who commits murder in order to get promotions — yet she is our heroine. In my daily Austin Film Festival blog post I had mentioned that I was offended by Miss Nobody. What I meant by that was that I was offended by the portrayal of women in Miss Nobody — which I realize might carry a bit more weight if I was in fact a woman, but I am not. Despite my gender, I feel like I can still be offended by a film that presents all of its female characters negatively. The women, primarily Sarah Jane, succeed in their careers only by lying, cheating, flirting and killing. Am I supposed to be impressed by a woman who co-opts some of the worst masculine characteristics in order to succeed in the workplace? Now, I would not have had as much of a problem if the lead character showed that she was qualified for or earned any of her promotions, but she is portrayed as a ditsy blond and does not possess any of the qualifications or employment history that is necessary to qualify her for the promotions. Of course she tries really hard (and arguably succeeds) in most of her positions, so one could argue that she is actually qualified. (Besides, what qualifies someone to be a good manager or director anyway?) I just would have liked for Sarah Jane to be promoted and succeed without stooping to such dastardly levels. I know, I know, I should chill out and enjoy the comedy of the situations… because murder is funny? Oh, I get it, Miss Nobody is a work of fiction and does not reflect reality — the filmmakers go to such great lengths to make sure we recognize Miss Nobody as a work of fiction (visually it appears to take place in an over-saturated hyper-real fantasy land similar to that of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie).
Aside from my opinions about the female characters, I also have problems with most of the male characters being unoriginal and cartoonish stereotypes. I felt very distanced from all of the characters and found it very difficult to feel anything for any of them.
Miss Nobody is one of those films that is difficult for me to rate. Ethical, social and political issues aside, it is a very beautiful film with several fun acting performances. Some of the writing is really silly (and a couple of the deaths are, I admit, quite creatively rendered), while other scenes just fall completely flat. I do have some serious problems with the over-reliance on the voice-over and Sarah Jane’s direct address to the camera does not work for me. Nonetheless, Leslie Bibb did really amaze me as Sarah Jane.