29 septembre 2005

Keane (2004/Kerrigan)

Keane (2004/Lodge Kerrigan/USA) +++

William Keane is shook up, erring in a coach station, looking for his 6 yold daughter, lost a few months ago. Divorced, unemployed, he's on his own in a cheap hotel room, walking all night through the streets of NYC, always hyper, talking to himself, feeling persecuted by people around him. The abductor of his daughter has become a mythic figure he converses with like if connected through space and time as an indivisible duet or duel. This desperate woman Keane meets has a daughter, Kira, who recalls sore memories. The instability of his behavior, commanded by a profoundly burried emotional violence, will challenge the right intentions of his disinterested help for Kira and his mother: this is the node of tension and worry explored here between two strangers forced to blind trust. The film cleverly passes beyond the traditional Hollywood conditioning for inalienable evilness, and teaches how to understand better the aggravating circumpstances explaining the social madness of a marginal population. A mysterious journey down NY backstreets. A humanistic documentation of public paranoia.
An hand-held camera follows his footsteps everywhere he goes, like a fly on the wall, making an intense psychological portrait of one individual and only one. This cinéma-vérité-like direction of the action, like an uninterrupted thread of existence, from patrolling the public space to sleeping on the shoulder of a speedway, from a public washroom to a nightclub, from a fastfood to an ice rink. A serie of scenes from his disorganised daily life needs no further commentary to sketch out the borderline life of this man living of a disability healthcare check. The very linear narration, devoid of informational flashbacks, never corroborates or balance the protagonist's understanding by alternate perspectives of side characters for a reality check. We are immersed all along with Keane although we gradually get chances to suspect the sanity of his story.
A compasionate camera, rid of prejudice and judgemental conclusions, remains however bound to an external periphery, outside his mind where the trauma undermines his personality. This basket case confronting abduction phobia, which is the most dreadful fear a parent could experience, with the unspoken, undescribed contemplation of a schizophrenic influence on a persona contradicted by his acts. The role of a naive child attached by his overacted care and frightened by his sudden surge of infinite sadness puts a comfortable distance between the man and his unintentional intemperance.The shortended last shot, before denouement is regretable though, even if it leaves the imagination suspended at a T junction where the inner spiralling isn't totally safe yet.
Selected in Toronto in 2004 and in Cannes in 2005 (Director's Fortnight). Just released here in France nationwide last week.

(s) +++ (w) ++ (m) +++ (i) +++ (c) +++

4 commentaires:

davis a dit…

Hm, sounds interesting. This opens here in San Francisco this week, too.

HarryTuttle a dit…

Good. Apparently IMDb isn't up-to-date. Looking forward to your opinion. Hopefully a new "erratum" in your eminent movie capsules ;)

acquarello a dit…

This one really struck me as a kind of psychological Dardenne film - similar camerawork, similar chaos, similar open-endedness. I like that there isn't one easy answer to why he acts the way that he does; it's not just a health disability or the trauma of losing a child but something like a confluence of traumas and disorders eating away at him.

HarryTuttle a dit…

You're right, it's very close to the "stalker camera" used in Rosetta, the same one-sided portrait too.
Something well done is how Keane looks around all the time, but the camera never shows who he looks at. So for one we don't know if he imagines them or not, and second, we don't see their face to read their reaction, if they are scared or despising. It's like an anti-subjective POV, providing the most subjective insight on Keane's personality. The audience's empathy is a first hand experience, not piloted by a context set up by the plot or an onscreen authority like if a doctor, a policeman, or even a neighbor stated a judgement on Keane.
For example the scene when he assaults the suspected abductor at the beguining of the film, is remarkably directed. No dramatized suspense with a race through the street by a passer by hero who would want to render justice, or the siren of a police car. No conversation from the victim. He just walks away, with his paranoia inner monologue.