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SIFF 2009, Day 7

May 28, 2009

The Merry Gentleman (2009)  Dir. Michael Keaton


From Blogger


Every year, I say to myself that I'm not going to see the movies that I can only see at a film festival and skip the stuff that will at some point open wide. Certainly the movie directed by and starring Michael Keaton will be in theaters before summer ends, right? Well, I couldn't contain myself and had to see it. It has my favorite batman in it. And Frank Logan has a bit in common with batman as they both have a really big secret.

In The Merry Gentleman, Kate Frazier (Kelly Macdonald) is running away from an abusive relationship. In her new life, she looks up into the snow to see a man (Michael Keaton) about to jump from a building, but her scream startles him and he instead falls backwards to safety. When being questioned by police, they realize that the man she saw on the roof was likely the sniper responsible for a murder in the building across the street. The story that unfolds isn't a mystery or thriller, but instead a movie about sadness, loss and the finding connections. Unlike the majority of Keaton's roles, Frank Logan doesn't say much. He has this in common with Kate and after he helps her with her Christmas tree, a friendship blossoms. They are both people with a past and with secrets and they simply seem to understand one another. I connected to these scenes where they spent time together in the hospital or burning the Christmas tree. Those moments of the film were incredibly fresh, honest and genuine. And they were wonderful in that they allowed an intimate friendship to develop between a man and a woman without it being romantic. They were people who could depend on one another, not lovers and that was refreshing.

But there were aspects of The Merry Gentleman that bothered me. I had a difficult time believing Kate Frazier's character. Sometimes, she seemed more like a man's idea of an abused wife than the real thing. She was just so incredibly naive and I just couldn't believe how she continued to flirt with every man she encountered when obviously she had no interest in relationships with men at all. And to not get that the cop was coming on to her seemed downright unbelievable. So, this nagged at me all movie and I know that women do exactly that, flirting unknowingly just to be friendly and likable, but Kate was someone who was hiding from her past and as such, I would expect her to be seriously guarded and distrustful of all, especially man, and Kate didn't appear to be.

But despite that, I did really enjoy this film and a adored these two characters, the quietly charming and lonely Kate and the silent hitman. And it was wonderful to see a film that explores relationships between men and women that aren't based on sex. People have other needs, and Kate and Frank needed someone in their lives to be with that doesn't demand to know that details of their past lives. Just because the past may have shaped us into who we are today, doesn't mean we all want to be constantly reliving it.

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