Video Librarian, and thought the results were worth sharing.
THE MERRY GENTLEMAN [***1/2]
(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-
donald), 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).