Sunday, June 21, 2009

"The Merry Gentleman" (2009) - Movie Review

“The Merry Gentleman” leaves us with an odd satisfaction, much like the unspoken but fulfilling moments Kate (Kelly McDonald) has with Frank (Michael Keaton). It particularly does not have a plot but events leading to seriously argue the act of people with their character history. Frank is a hitman and Kate is new in town. He is going through his hitman crisis while she is wondering what to make of the interested men in her since she escaped from a violent husband Michael (Bobby Cannavale).

With Michael Keaton debuting as director, this is a film which is much originating from the religious upbringing of right and wrong. Kate constantly brings the superior power to the situation of unknown certainty. She takes calm silences in the church opposite to the place she works. That is the same place up where she sees Frank unknown to her then getting ready to jump. She screams and that puts him off balance to fall into the building thus saving his life. She is worried and calls the cops. Next day she learns that someone got killed in the building she works and the killer got sniper shot from the building next where Kate saw the mystery man. While she pitied the person previous night, she feels bad whether she should have let him die.

Keaton strikes a peculiar film from writer Ron Lazeretti who was supposed to direct the film and a sudden illness caused him to pass the script to Keaton who was anyway supposed to play Frank. All the films I have seen of Keaton, he was a talker and here he is understandably calm. Not even succinct but totally burning inside. He sees Kate reenacting the peaceful Jesus statue she liked in the church to his friend Diane (Darlene Hunt) on his criss-cross and takes as a guiding light to his misery. Of course he finishes the job of taking care of his target.

The story poses the judgment in the human mind of the actions causing consequences. Keaton is merciless in killing his targets but is smoothing kind to Kate. Why does killers in film have a such a tendency to be the ultimate gentleman to the women? May be they are much more appreciative and patient of their short life span. But we do not see Keaton as the only man. A detective named Dave (Tom Bastounes) is interested in Kate as well. He is divorced and recovering alcoholic and a little over weight which he is conscious of, like every one. He kind of tricks Kate for a dinner in the name of discussing the case and then admits his mistake. Before it turns sour when his questioning and doubting trait of being the cop makes Kate leave upset.

There are three men in the film having a liking for Kate. Her terrorizing husband Michael who finds Kate eventually and tells that he is a reformed man. He is threatening in that as he is now an official Jesus freak praising the lord to keep his anger down. He seems genuine or may be not from the eyes of Kate for which she has sufficient good reasons. One would be the black eye she is not able to wipe out and not able to dodge the questions about it. Then is our friendly next door neighbour Dave caught between affection, insecurity, care, doubt and just being out there. Frank is the mystery man which is like a magnet for women, especially a lost one like Kate. But Keaton does not put it like that. Kate and Frank are uniquely bound by the situation they are in. Frank has no friends while Kate is afraid for any cheery talker. For her, deceit is everywhere and the slightest unsettling behaviour reminds the life she left.
“The Merry Gentleman” is more of a real film and importantly an uncompromising film. It does not joyfully closes down because it has to. It has the people being the people we are wondering “what if” conditions to the bad predicament other humans meet up with. Amongst those we are happy at the distant harm being there and not nearing us. In this mixed feeling we are in search of right and wrong. Most of all wanted to find a meaning out of it as it will be reveal the destiny they presume to have. On that the film is a sidewalk fair on a gloomy afternoon.

For the better part of the story, it is about but as her friend Dianne says, we do not know the first thing about her. She is not silent but chooses the words. Her thick Scottish accent does not help in her hermit life style. The film over all shows only few scenes where Frank and Kate speak, dine and drive. Both oddly do not speak much but find comfort in each other. “The Merry Gentleman” does not have a purpose but creates care in the characters and association with them in its audience. That makes it fulfilling if not perfect.

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