Keyhole

Keyhole

Directed by: Guy Maddin
93 minutes

New England Premiere


Fugitive criminal Ulysses Pick (Jason Patric) and his gang return to his family home after a long absence with one objective: to find his wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini), who lies in wait in their upstairs bedroom. This should be a simple, straightforward task; however, we’re in a Guy Maddin film and are thus thrust into a surreal milieu where memories and dreams converge and overlap. It’s all ostensibly set in a single building, but as Pick moves from one room, hallway, or corridor to another (with two captives—a teenaged girl and a bound and gagged young man—in tow), it feels like he has entered a seemingly endless labyrinth replete with screaming ghosts, shadows forever gliding across the walls, raindrops incessantly thrumming at the exterior, and oddities such as a ramshackle, bicycle-powered electric chair.

In his first feature since the highly personal docu-hybrid MY WINNIPEG (IFFBoston 2008), Maddin’s psychological obsessions and undeniably distinctive visual aesthetic remain intact—but KEYHOLE also uncovers a few new wrinkles. Instead of the usual recreation of late-silent/early-sound cinema, he has essentially crossed a film noir with an RKO horror flick (and a soundtrack to match). While still containing flashes of macabre humor, the sustained tone is altogether more serious, if not at all somber. Best of all is Patric: he meshes well with a typically eccentric Maddin ensemble (including both Kevin McDonald and Udo Kier!), but also turns in a tricky, nuanced performance that gives this excitable, beguilingly elusive film its center.

—Chris Kriofske