For nearly the entirety of Keane, the third film from writer-director Lodge Kerrigan, the camera rests on the titular subject’s shoulders like a silent Jiminy Cricket, capturing his erratic movements in a series of 90 and 45-degree side profile close-ups that evoke the protagonist’s tortured mental state. Keane is a character without a conscience—more precisely, a man whose moral sense has cruelly abandoned him, seemingly because of his daughter’s abduction from New York City’s Port Authority bus terminal the year before. As played by British performer Damian Lewis, Keane is a series of schizoid tics and breathy note-to-self monologues; it’s an actor’s wet dream of a role that, melded with Kerrigan’s “I (eye) am a camera” aesthetic, suggests a downtown Dreyer’s roving handheld version of The Passion of Joan of Arc. Kerrigan’s intent is clear: in staying so close to Keane, he’s attempting to find the profundity in one man’s suffering (what a colleague not so kindly likened to “picking at a scab for 90 minutes”), but as that comment implies, the resulting film is unfortunately akin to a rat-in-the-maze science experiment. Kerrigan assumes that a character’s physical actions are the sole pathway to cinematic truth, thus neglecting the metaphysical aspects of Keane’s torments and leaving Lewis’s technically accomplished performance stranded within a conceptual void. Any initial sense of intimacy or empathy is quickly subsumed by and abandoned for a cool intellectual distance (not unlike one kid watching another kid rip the wings off a fly) and it soon becomes apparent that Kerrigan is as oblivious about and disdainful toward his lead character as he presumes his audience to be.
- Magnolia Pictures
- 90 min
- Lodge Kerrigan
- Lodge Kerrigan
- Damian Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Amy Ryan, Tina Holmes, Christopher Evan Welch, Lev Gorn, Liza Colón-Zayas, Mellini Kantayya
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