Looking at WNY’s visual art, theater, music, and dance scenes.
May 11, 2012
08:27 AMTalk about Arts
Movie Review: Keyhole
Films opening this weekend:
Artist, The [re-release] - Amherst, Eastern Hills Dipsons; Elmwood, Quaker, Hollywood Regals - REVIEW
Dark Shadows - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade, Flix Dipsons; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals; Transit Drive-In - REVIEW
Keyhole - Screening Room Cinema Cafe
Guy Maddin's haunting Keyhole concurrently projects the tenuous holds of reality, dream, and afterlife onto a fixed environment, the Pick family home. The household's patriarch has returned after an extended absence, we watch as the shadows, walls, and objects within stir up ingrained memories he had otherwise forgotten. But as this stranger shakes the cloud of erased time, the tale shifts to take the form of a young man's fractured mind attempting to cope with being the lone survivor of a tragic family.
No matter the subject, however, while we see the inhabitants coming and going either due to their own free will or God's, the establishment that protected and embraced them never forgets a single moment.
Co-written by George Toles, the Canadian auteur has adapted Homer's Odyssey, and its quest to return home. What better tool to use than a man's journey back to forgotten normalcy after excising himself to explain the emotional powers of possessions and family within the construct of domesticity? With a wife long left alone on her marital bed as suitors attempt to take her hand, the fight becomes finding the strength to battle through the doors of memory, regret, and love.
Shot in a muted black and white with a soft vignette around the frame, Ulysses' (Jason Patric) return isn't necessarily a happy affair. A gangster who sent his men ahead to infiltrate the house imprisoning his soul, his arrival with a young, soaking wet woman named Denny (Brooke Palsson) is just one of the strange occurrences to come to light at the start.
Maddin and Toles go to great pains to show the sorrow that lingers through the ages in the guise of dusty artifacts and suffering shadows of the men and women who once lived carefree; the ghosts existing in the specks and particles flying through rays of light shining in. Each object—whether a stuffed wolverine named Crispy or a pocketknife or a bowl created by a son's hands—holds time, both good and bad. And while we may wish to remember the love or passion within each, any glimpse at joy quickly disappears once our ultimate loss rises up to replace it. Thus, while Ulysses' traverses his home one room at a time, those he's brought eventually devolve into the selfish monsters they truly are.
An obtuse look inside captured memory, Keyhole's aesthetic lives within a realm of horror and tragedy, while its tone flitters through comedy's campier spectrum end. A history is given in a surreally abstract way as we watch the faded imprints through Ulysses' eyes while he wades through tragedy to protect his love Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini) from archrival Chang (Johnny Chang). That release, however, may only bring more pain as death's reality is left naked beneath.
Characters come and go, but like Homer's Odyssey, the son must play an integral role. Lost in a world of the damned, he is the lone survivor living a never-ending nightmare. The boy left behind must slog through them without escape—their souls forever embedded in the dark. And while this truth's convolution and difficulty in comprehension causes the film to be an acquired taste, one cannot deny the artistry or the brilliance of its creator fearlessly engulfing us inside his contemporary myth.
Keyhole 6/10 | ★ ★ ½
 Isabella Rossellini and Udo Kier in Guy Maddin's "Keyhole"
 Jason Patric in Guy Maddin's "Keyhole"
courtesy of Monterey Media Inc