The Merry Gentleman (2008)
A woman leaves an abusive relationship to begin a new life in a new city, where she forms an unlikely and ironic relationship with a suicidal hitman (unbeknownst to her). Enter a worn, alcoholic detective to form the third party in a very unusual triangle as this story begins to unfold.
Fleeing her abusive husband, Kate Frazier travels to Chicago to start a new life. But upon fatefully disrupting remorseful hitman Frank Logan's suicide, she becomes intertwined in the lonely killer's life and that of the sullen detective attempting to track him down.
- A delicacy of tone transforms Michael Keatons The Merry Gentleman from what might have been a pedestrian tale into a beautifully romantic fable. Directed, photographed, and performed with a precision and style that mark a distinctive directorial debut, the film begins with a woman who leaves an abusive relationship to begin a new life in a new city, where she forms an unlikely and ironic relationship with a suicidal hit man (unbeknownst to her). Enter a worn, alcoholic detective to form the third party in a very unusual triangle, and this dark, soulful, sometimes-funny story begins to unfold.
Walking a line between the conventional and the idiosyncratic, Keaton creates a highly original yarn that has a quiet, sometimes-even-meditative quality, and frames a more-straightforward story about a womans accidental involvement in a murder investigation. Wonderfully composed and enacted, The Merry Gentleman features Keaton in the lead role opposite a gifted leading lady, Kelly Macdonald, who is at once enigmatic and iconographic in her portrayal of a woman trying to find her way in a cold world. The cop, played by Tom Bastounes, is a disheveled embodiment of male cluelessness and relentless pursuit. Together they are lonely figures in an urban landscape, one that exemplifies the isolation and need for personal relationships that we all carry with us.
Lonely guy Frank Logan (Michael Keaton) meets cute with his addled neighbor, Kate (Kelly MacDonald), under a fallen Christmas tree, and these two bruised souls gradually begin to approach something like redemption under each other's caring eye. Of course they have their problems: Frank is actually a suicidal hitman and he's being stalked by an alcoholic cop (Tom Bastounes) with romantic designs on Kate, who he suspects saw Frank commit the murder he's investigating. Frank begins to plan another hit, but just when, why, or who maybe not even he knows. It's a remarkably promising directorial debut for Keaton (BATMAN, BEETLEJUICE) who shows a generosity and wisdom in letting the amazing Macdonald (Josh Brolin's wife in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) keep her Scottish accent and voice most of the dialogue in the film. A captivating screen presence, MacDonald gamely embodies an array of conflicting but complementary tics and emotions, which--like Frank's--are caught between the need to conceal the truth and the just-as-pressing need to express it. Bobby Cannavale (THE TEN) is good in his big scene as Kate's abusive cop-husband, and the ending is almost as surprising as the breadth of artistry Keaton shows behind the camera, making it a surprise sleeper all the way. [D-Man2010]