(director/writer: Guy Maddin; screenwriter: George Toles;
Kasulke; editor: John Gurdebeke;
Staczek; cast: Jason Patric (Ulysses Pick), Isabella Rossellini
(Hyacinth), Udo Kier (Dr. Lemke), Brooke Palsson
(Denny), David Wontner (Manners), Louis Negin
(Calypso/Camille), Kevin McDonald (Ogilbe), Daniel
Enright (Big Ed), Theodoros Zegeye-Gebrehiwot (Heatly), Olivia Rameau
(Rochelle), Mike Bell
(Milo), Johnny Chang (Chang); Runtime: 93;
MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jody Shapiro/Jean du Toit/Lindsay
Hamel/Guy Maddin; Monterey
"Maddin bathes it in his usual weirdness."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
filmmaker Guy Maddin ("My Winnipeg"/"Brand Upon The
Brain!"/"Careful") films in black and white a B-film psychological
melodrama that blends into a 1930s gangster
picture, a haunted-house picture, a ghost story
picture and an updated picture on Homer's Ulysses.
Maddin and his regular co-writer Georges Toles pack so
much baggage, accessible and personal, into their
screenplay, that it's hardly possible to follow the
eccentric filmmaker down every trail except to note he
seems to be mainly concerned about trying to say
something about his usual themes of memory and loss.
The atmospheric dream-scape picture focuses on a
gangster returning home from a dark journey and trying
to put things into order about what he's forgotten,
but it also crosses over many other paths that are
only articulated in a short-order before suddenly
dropped for good.
For my money, it was basically a ghost story picture that's weird and nonsensical beyond what the genre calls for. Maddin bathes it in his usual weirdness, which should be attractive to his fans even though the film travels a slightly different path from his usual silent film one. Keyhole offers such strange treats as a French speaking gun moll (Olivia Rameau) with dirty writings on her panties, a wooden penis protruding from the wall of the creaky house, a homemade electric chair sitting in one of the rooms, a stuffed wolverine carried around to different rooms by the hero, a lunatic-like naked old man chained to the bed of his daughter, and a young woman who accidentally drowned only to be returned to life with gold dust in her pubic hairs. The picture is filled with many sad and amusing moments, but never seemingly comes together as a whole. It remains titillating or shocking in parts because of its rich imagination without ever coalescing as a finished feature film.
The unique story starts out
on familiar horror story turf, of a stormy night and a
creaky old house with restless spirits stirring in it.
Inside is a young man named Manners (David Wontner), who is gagged and bound
by a group of gangsters. It is later revealed Manners
is the boss' only surviving son, who is not
unrecognized by him. The gang greet their late
arriving boss Ulysses Pick (Jason Patric), who
returns to his old house after being away for a long
time. He is carrying on his shoulders the wet body of
a teenage girl named Denny (Brooke Palsson) he saved from drowning, and
is nonplussed when he learns that three of the gang
were killed in a shoot-out with the police to get into
the house. We further learn Ulysses has returned to
search for his wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini). She has locked herself
in the attic bedroom with the apparition of her father
(Louis Negin) chained to her bed,
and she is supposedly in mourning for her four dead
children. For contact with the outside world, she
peers through the keyhole of her room. Though the gang
is antsy at the boss' strange behavior, Ulysses dismisses their
challenges to his command by getting them to follow by
force and concerns himself only with getting a
grieving doctor (Udo Kier) to look after the girl he
rescued from drowning and searching the entire house
to find his wife in order to arrange things as they
were before he left on his journey.
It was commissioned by the
for the Arts
at Ohio State University, and is the first film Maddin
shot as digital.
REVIEWED ON 7/15/2012 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ