Sunday, December 20, 2009

of the
Part 13

I recently
the fol-
film for
Video Librarian, and thought the results were worth sharing.

(Michael Keaton, US, 2008, 97 mins.)

Last summer, Michael Keaton (Batman, Game 6)
made his directorial debut with The Merry Gentle-
man, a two-pronged character study shot in shades of noir.

The set-up begins in Chicago with Keaton's Frank Logan wan-
dering through the wintery weather. Kate Frazier (Kelly Mac-
), meanwhile, lives in an unnamed town with another man
(Bobby Cannavale), and enters the scene with a bruised eye. Af-
ter her cop companion leaves for work, she packs up her stuff,
catches a plane to the Windy City, and starts a new life.

In the interval, Logan watch-
es a trio of men leave a corner
bar. Moments later, he shoots
one of them dead. Days later,
while planning another hit, he
spies Frazier, now working as
a receptionist, through his
viewfinder. She notices him
on the roof, screams, and calls the police because she thought he
was going to jump. He disappears, but after a second murder, they
return to question her about the man she saw. Now, Frank’s got
two bodies to his name and a connection to Kate, who tells
different people different stories about her background.

From the opening sequence, the film appears to share similari-
ties with John Dahl's Chicago-set You Kill Me, except The Mer-
ry Gentleman isn’t a black comedy, despite a few subtle comic
touches, like the world's most depressing office holiday party.
Plus, the central duo doesn’t meet until the halfway point.

If a first film reveals where an actor-turned-director’s head is
at, then Keaton’s mind resides in a dimly-lit, but not hopeless
place. The Merry Gentleman starts out as a two-hander,
but Macdonald gets all the best scenes, while he barely speaks
a word. Frank’s die is cast, but Kate’s future is unwritten, and
it takes a hit man to help her to write it. Highly recommended.

Click here for Movie of the Month, Part 12: Il Divo

Endnote: This is an edited version of a longer review.
Click here for the original. Images from Time Out Chicago
and All Movie Photo (Copyright © Samuel Goldwyn Films).

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