Watched Keane today, a remarkably discomforting film, written and directed by Lodge H. Kerrigan, with a central performance by Damian Lewis that defies categorization. It’s a claustrophobic exercise in eliciting viewer paranoia as it chronicles a mentally unstable man (is he manic-schizophrenic or simply a paranoid schizophrenic . . . I don’t own a copy of DSM IV so who knows) who is on the lam, off his meds, and may or may not be responsible for the abduction of a daughter the audience is not even sure ever existed. Lewis’s ability to waver from moments of lucidity to a man fighting the voices raging inside his head is downright frightening (and strangely endearing once you remind yourself the guy won’t crawl through the television), and it is this portrait of a man with whom most of us would avoid eye contact (or even cross the street to stay out of his path . . . the gritty underbelly of midtown Manhattan hasn’t looked so bleak and uninviting for a long time) that occupies the first forty-five minutes of the film. But then William connects with a young mother and her seven-year-old daughter holed up in the low-rent hotel where William lives. It is here that a more conventional plot kicks in and the relationship between Keane and this little girl is thrilling due to the film’s unwillingness to make it easy on the audience. Not for the faint of heart or the overindulgent parent; still, Keane rarely goes where you expect it to go and that makes it a truly fine piece of work.
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