In a house haunted with memories, gangster and father Ulysses Pick (Jason Patric) arrives home after a long absence towing the body of a teenaged girl and a bound and gagged young man. His gang waits inside his house, having shot their way past police. There is friction in the ranks. Ulysses, however, is focused on one thing: journeying through the house, room by room, and reaching his wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini) in her bedroom upstairs. His odyssey eventually becomes an emotional tour, as the strange nooks and crannies of the house reveal more about the mysterious Pick family. Written by
Guy Maddin's new feature is pretty typical for the director. If you're a fan, it'll please you. If you're among the uninitiated, it'll drive you nuts. Me, I'm an enormous fan, have seen almost all of his films more than once and own all of his features except for the one that's unavailable on DVD (and this one). Keyhole may even be a bit more esoteric than his other films, but certainly not by much. Jason Patrick (of all people) stars as a probably dead gangster who holes up in his old house along with his gang. He wants to reconnect with his wife (Isabella Rossellini, who has had her wagon hitched to Maddin for about a decade now), who is locked upstairs and unwilling to come out (Patrick talks to her through the titular hole). The house is haunted by various ghosts from the past, including frequent Maddin collaborator Louis Negin, playing Rossellini's father, who is chained naked to her bed and often wanders about the house whipping the other ghosts. Patrick explores the house, trying to find a way to get to his wife, alongside a pretty, young blind girl (Brooke Palsson) who always feels as if she is drowning, and a gagged hostage that the gang has taken (David Wontner). As Patrick explores, the rest of his gang plans to betray him. Other recognizable members of the cast include Udo Kier, who plays a doctor, and Kevin McDonald of The Kids in the Hall (Maddin formerly worked with Kid in the Hall Mike McKinney in The Saddest Music in the World, and was honestly a much better fit for the director than McDonald is). As you might have figured out by now, this is pretty weird. As is common with Maddin's films, he had about fifty weird ideas and combined them into a feature. That might sound like it could be a mess, but if anyone can handle something like this, it's Maddin. And I loved it. His aesthetic hasn't changed much in the past decade or so, but he's a master of imagery. I also love his dreamy dialogue and sound design. I certainly wouldn't recommend an uninitiated viewer to start with this one, but, again, if you're a fan, don't hesitate.
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