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|Index||14 reviews in total|
Before viewing, I saw this film referred to as a '30s Gangster homage' or noir-styled 'drama'. For anyone expecting a throwback film or conventional narrative, Keyhole will confuse and then, probably, disappoint. In fact, Keyhole is a very abstract take on the memories and emotions harboured inside an old house, which is inhabited by ghosts and other slaves to the past. And while Keyhole isn't a gripping crime thriller, neither should it be taken purely as an academic statement or challenging art-house experiment. Like most of Maddin's films, the dark absurdity and creative imagery is almost casually amusing and less pretentious than comparable movies. The cinematography, music, art direction and performances are tremendously captivating, if occasionally over-bearing. For anyone who's intrigued by these elements as much as by the often-mislead depiction of the film in mainstream media should definitely see Keyhole. Anyone who's turned off by bizarre inventions of unorthodox storytelling should leave this door locked.
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.
Gangster and deadbeat dad, Ulysses Pick (Jason Patric), embarks on an
unusual journey through his home, in a noir ghost story that draws on
Guy Maddin is an unusual man, whose styles are interesting and some would say unique. Keep in mind this is a man who, ten years prior, made "The Heart of the World" (2000) in the style of Russian constructivism. And it worked.
This time around, there is a cheesy, low budget feel with less-than-stellar acting, at least at the beginning. (The low budget look may be because Maddin shot Keyhole digitally rather than his usual method of shooting on 16mm or Super-8mm.) Things get better as they go, especially once the acting chops of Isabella Rossellini and Udo Kier are brought into the picture.
Ebert wrote, "Keyhole plays like a fever dream using the elements of film noir but restlessly rearranging them in an attempt to force sense out of them. You have the elements lined up against the wall, and in some mercurial way, they slip free and attack you from behind." Wow. Those are some words, Roger. Not sure exactly what you mean, but mysteriously such a review fits this film nicely.
Gangster Ulysses Pick (Jason Patric) has his men shoot their way into a
home surrounded by police. Big Ed is second-in-command and he tells the
dead to walk out. There is a bound and gagged man. The house is
haunted. Ulysses has a girl Denny with him who is soaking wet,
supposedly drowned and blind. They go in search for his wife Hyacinth
(Isabella Rossellini). His gang wonders about Ulysses' plans and fight
It's yet another Guy Maddin experimental film. This is almost watchable as the mystery of what this is truly about holds the audience's attendance. This is a black and white dreamscape or a nightmare. I wonder if Maddin can ever use his outlandish imagery in a more conventional movie. The production is relatively simple. There are a couple of interesting actors here. Like a lot of his movies, Maddin loses me about halfway through.
Canada 93m, B&W, Colour Director: Guy Maddin; Cast: Jason Patric,
Isabella Rossellini, Udo Kier, Kevin McDonald
Keyhole is a dark surreal film noir styled erotic ghost story loosely based on Homer's Odyssey about Ulysses Pick, a gangster whose mob pals shoot their way into his family home. Upon his arrival, Ulysses is inexplicably accompanied by a stuffed wolverine named "Crispy" and a drowned woman who apparently comes to life. His odyssey is a claustrophobic adventure through his labyrinth of a house which seems to defy the laws of time and space. Nearly incomprehensible, Keyhole offers a glimpse into a dead man's life through nightmarish visuals that are as interesting as they are perplexing (Klaus Ming August 2013).
Stumbling out of the theater, my friend said in a small voice, "I think
that was even stranger than Hourglass Sanatorium".
This one follows a cast of characters comprising a family whose given names are evocative of literary figures, ways of being, and pretty objects. Unsurprisingly, the character Ulysses is on a rambling quest to find something that may not exist at all -- an adumbrate vision of his wife Hyacinth. Oh, and all he has to do is make it from the first floor of his house to the third.
March (crawl, duck, run) behind them while they are sometimes nude, scraping at things, or shaking dice (there's a joke about masturbation in here somewhere), navigating their bilious house that has a ton of locked doors and a mess of floating dust particles, which -- I'm going out on a limb -- are probably metaphor for the thickness of whatever it is that came between them.
My favorite thematic preoccupation lies in Maddin's stirring portrayal of the fuzzy line between life and death, with figures floating in and out of the frame (and existence), incorporating themselves into deadly vanishing-vignettes that keep recurring, and, corporeal, positioning themselves in zones of the house and grounds that Maddin somehow conveys to the audience are "dead space".
I won't say I "like" Guy Maddin in the sense that I am a fan, but for
sure his name makes me consider watching a film because while I
normally find them difficult to follow or fully appreciate, they
usually offer so much that is of interest that they are worth a look.
His style is something quite unique to him and sometimes he is so
unique that his target audience can appear to be only himself and if
the rest of us like it too then so be it. I say this because this is
sort of the case here and I hope he really likes Keyhole but I would
struggle to think of too many people who would really understand it or
enjoy it as he would.
There are lots of ideas here and lots of style to deliver them. A gangster and his gang hold up in an old house while the police wait outside; the gang want to know the plan but Ulysses Pick is more concerned with working his way through this house full of ghosts one room at a time. As an idea it is a good one a man on a journey through himself by virtue of literally confronting the ghosts in his house. It appealed to me as an idea because it offered so much of interest in the hands of Maddin (who is known for his surreal imagery and films constructed around real or imagined or perceived pasts). Sadly it doesn't come off and it ends up feeling like an idea that was probably fully fleshed out in Maddin's head but not in a way that he was able to translate to film.
The result is a film that feels clever but all too often does it in a remote "art student" manner where it is happy doing what it wants because it is your fault if you are not smart enough to understand and appreciate all the hidden meaning in the symbolism. It is a shame because there is a good cast here in Patric, Rossellini and Kier but I wonder do even they really understand what it going on I hope not, because if they did then they didn't do much to share it with the viewer.
A disappointing film then; it offers much in the concept but in the delivery it seems far too closed off and full of randomness with no threads or cues to really help the viewer keep up or go along. Maddin is usually worth a look but here it isn't the case.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is guaranteed to draw differing opinions as to how good/bad
this film is. This film is very surreal with strange artistic imagery
and dreamlike sequences that come as close as you can get to being in a
It follows Ulysses Pick, a career criminal and deadbeat dad as he goes through some deep self exploration sometime in the early 20th century. After a robbery and shoot out, Ulysses(played by Jason Patric) and his gang decide to hold up in an abandoned old house, but nothing is what it seems as this house hold a lot of forgotten secrets for Ulysses and the ghosts from Ulysses' past haunt him deeply. Sorry no spoilers here you will have to see is and figure out the rest for yourself.
The whole film itself is one big dream sequence that is guaranteed to fly over a lot of heads and anger the casual movie watcher while being an absolute treat to those who love artistic horror/thriller films with hidden/multiple meanings and interpretations. Each scene is carefully woven together to make you think and make you giddy with anticipation of whats going to happen next or what it all means.
Definitely not for everyone and not a cookie cutter film by any means. It's a surreal journey into the mind of Ulysses, a man with a lot of regrets and a past that haunts him deeply.
'Keyhole' is mostly shot in black-and-white... and there my understanding of it ends. The basic plot seems to be about a gangster (Jason Patric) searching for his wife (Isabella Rossellini, still beautiful) who is hiding behind a locked door in a haunted house. For some reason he's dragging along with him a drowned - but talking - young woman and a bound & gagged young man. Meanwhile various other gangsters and ghosts roam about the place to no great effect. It's hard to judge the actors' performances because they're placed in such an unreal situation and are acting from such a bizarre script. To paraphrase London Mayor Boris Johnson, it goes 'zoink' off the arty-farty register. Fans of fat old man nudity will love it, unfortunately.
I love unusual films, B&W films, cryptic films, film noir, gangster
films, David Lynch films, and while this tries to be most of the
aforementioned rolled into one, it is just bad beyond words. Swinging
lights and cameras, bizarre cutaways, pseudo-meaningful narration.. Mix
in a big name or two for 'star power'. Full of sound and fury and
signifying nothing. I can't believe this film was commissioned.
Dialogue that you wouldn't even find in a cheap b-movie. Ghosts. Rattling chains. Gangsters. Dream sequence logic but not really ever engaging in any meaningful way. And I normally love movies like this! I like movies you have to work at to understand, this one makes me not want to even bother.
Just atrocious. Made want to stop watching movies, period. I have to wait a while and put on some real movies to get the bad taste of this one out of my system. Really... that bad. I considered two stars then I watched a little more and I wished I could give a zero.
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