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Keane (R)

Release Date: September 9th, 2005 (NYC-Landmark Sunshine Cinemas) by Magnolia Pictures.
The Cast: Damian Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Amy Ryan
Directed by Lodge Kerrigan.

BASIC PREMISE: William Keane (Lewis) searches for his missing daughter at the Port Authority and, while staying at a motel, he meets a mother (Ryan) whose daughter (Breslin) reminds him of his own.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Damian Lewis gives a very strong performance as a troubled, drug-addicted man who believes his daughter was abducted. The first frame kicks right into the 2nd Act tension without a 1st Act that sets up the characters---we never get to meet his daughter. During his search at the Port Authority, he frantically asks the information booth attendant if she has seen his daughter. For the next 20 minutes, the camera rarely leaves his face. Every detail of his face is visible, including his hyper-active body gestures, sweat, and reddish eyes. Also, the camera movements are very jerky, which cases a very appropriate dizzying effect---as if you're actually in his head. Fortunately, this is not a one-man show like the first 20 minutes suggest. When he reaches a motel across the river in New Jersey, he gives $100 to a married woman with a young daughter. Predictably, she welcomes him into her room as well as her life. She is as much of a shady figure as he is: we never get to meet her husband or find out how they ended up at the motel. These mysteries along with the mystery of Keane's past make this movie seem very David Lynchian--or at least inspired by his films. There are many moments when you think something violent and even sexual is going to happen, but it never comes. As Keane interacts with the young girl and even baby-sits her, he becomes much more complex and likeable and so does the film as well.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Keane's emotional and physical condition is very depressing, especially because he is just as depressed as he looks. However, it is possible to see his gradual attempts to start a better, normal life. He even tries to get a job at a garage. He does change his look by shaving, showering, and putting on clean clothes. But his personality also softens up a lot when he baby-sits the young girl who resembles his daughter. Although his predicament is sad, his effort to change his life is subtly uplifting even if he does not always succeed. The basic message is that life is not always fair to some people no matter how hard they try--and doing drugs is certainly not a good solution.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Past the 20 minute mark, the plot becomes predictable.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Despite a deceptively excruciating beginning, the rest of the movie calms down a little and becomes more interesting and thought-provoking once other characters are introduced. Damian Lewis gives a superb performance that elevates the film by breathing life into William Keane. It is not an easy film to watch, but, surprisingly, it is neither too violent nor sexual.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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