The Merry Gentleman (2009)
The Merry Gentleman (2009)

Genre: Crime Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.

Release Date: April 5th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Michael Keaton Actors: Michael Keaton, Kelly Macdonald, Bobby Cannavale, Tom Bastounes, Guy Van Swearingen, Darlene Hunt

 


 

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ichael Keaton’s “The Merry Gentleman” approaches its dark themes of love, lies, and salvation both meticulously and slowly, steadily reaching a forlorn conclusion that will anger and confuse some while delighting others. It employs melancholy reflections on the frailty of human interaction to paint a tale of inescapable mental and emotional consequences. Like precious few films, “The Merry Gentleman” offers a mesmerizing glimpse into the complexities and bittersweet realities of life through nurturing the profound impact a single sincere connection can have, if only for a moment – and all without sacrificing its ideals for a Hollywood ending.

Fleeing her abusive husband, Kate Frazier (Kelly Macdonald) travels to Chicago to start a new life. But upon fatefully disrupting remorseful hitman Frank Logan’s (Michael Keaton) suicide, she becomes intertwined in the lonely killer’s life. In addition, she’s romanced by sullen detective Dave Murcheson (Tom Bastounes), the policeman attempting to track down Logan.

“The Merry Gentleman” opens to the chimes of a clock tower, a technique used in far too many films. But it immediately amends the familiarity by introducing the anti-hero with a quirky, violent act, accompanied by perversely contrasting Christmas music (the holidays partly serve to relieve the normal suspicions of the following unlikely coincidences). It’s a promisingly nuanced setup that becomes more fascinating as the two other major players are introduced. But as the film progresses, a noticeable lag accompanies almost every scene – the sequences that focus on subtle expressions and meaningful wordless exchanges aren’t concerned with time. If the lingering after each scene was cut, the film might run just half an hour.

The strain on the soul from taking lives, facing rejection, and submersion in solitude blankets the film in a depressing gloom, though the beautiful cinematography attempts to balance out the mood. While the production is a contemplation on retribution, religion, saviors and second chances, along with a thoughtful observation on unhurried romance, the open-ended realist resolution may not sit well with audiences looking for direct answers for the future of these troubled characters. Nonetheless, it’s an impressive piece for veteran actor Michael Keaton’s directorial debut.

– The Massie Twins

  • 7/10