Sunday, November 15, 2009

DVD: The Merry Gentleman (2009)

This movie opened at my neighborhood theater earlier this year on a Friday when I was heading out of town. I made a note to see it on my return but never had the chance; by Wednesday it was gone. It deserved better than a five-day run. A lot better.

Chez K favorite Michael Keaton plays a suicidal assassin. Through a random act of kindness he crosses paths with Kelly Macdonald, a women fleeing an abusive relationship. A strange bond forms between the two over a blustery Chicago winter.

Keaton, typically a bundle of energy, opts for a powerful stillness here, achieving all he needs with a flicker of his facial muscles. He’s also sporting a great look. Macdonald beguiles in a role that requires every man to fall in love with her. Using her own Scottish accent aids in that enormously. Tom Bastounes shines as a lonely detective smitten with Macdonald, and the always welcome Bobby Cannavale is a powerhouse in his scene as Macdonald’s husband, never quite apologizing for his actions while touting his newfound salvation.

Most impressive of all is Keaton’s direction of the film. (The actor took over behind the camera when screenwriter Ron Lazzeretti suffered appendicitis.) The Merry Gentleman is a quiet, deliberate movie, and Keaton nails the tricky tone from the outset. He has a nice eye for composition and an unforced feel for working people; the interactions with cops and hospital staff have the texture of real life. Pair this sleeper with Blast of Silence for a Christmas hit man double-bill.