A mumbling street crazy (Damien Lewis) wanders the city looking for Sophie, his six year old daughter, who he claims or believes was kidnapped some months before. The puzzle of Keane (2004) becomes: did the loss of his daughter drive this man crazy; was he always crazy & never had a daughter, but made her up out of loneliness; or has he gone mad from guilt having himself done something awful to his daughter.
Angrily singing "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" in a bar while others are trying to watch a game, he's lucky not to get tossed out on his arse. This little section of the film was played with such loony intensity, it was an incredible performance.
Keane is haunting & disturbing, his lunatic adventures interesting. After a while his delusional wanderings & drug abuse do drag into tedium, but just as it seems this can't possibly go on longer as a one-man show, other characters show up & reinvigorate the yarn.
He slowly manages to intrude himself into the life of a pereptually distressed mom, Lynn (Amy Ryan), & her seven year old daughter Kira (Abigail Breslin). He pulls himself together sufficiently that Lynn doesn't catch on that he's nuts, but even on his best behavior, it's hard to believe she'd leave her kid alone with this guy, but for her own careless desparation.
She does entrust her kid to him as a babysitter, never coming to any realization that he's been secretly stalking her, had previously broken into her apartment to paw through her things, & is just basically one hell of a creepy guy.
While out in the world with the kid he has one of his major paranoid spells. It's sweet how Kira, realizing her friend is not right in the head, strives to take care of him & calm him down, turning into the parent, which she may well have had to be for Lynn previously so is used to it.
It won't be long before Keane, having gained Kira's trust, is able to kidnap her as a replacement for his own either dead, kidnapped, or imaginary daughter.
A film with this content could go many directions, from psycho thriller to Rainman sorrowfulness. It manages to mix the two, but as an unpresuming Indy project reliant on acting rather than pyrotechnics or violent excesses. It leans furthest sorrowfulness. It's original, & in quiet ways terrifying.
The dvd includes an "alternate cut" of the movie provided by the producer Steven Soderbergh. I tried to watch it but halfway through I turned it off in disgust. The director rejected the alternate edit & did the effective one himself.
I'm a little shocked director Lodge Kerrington even permitted the crummy version to be included, though it certainly is an object lesson of how good directors can be made to look like bad directors not because they lacked sufficient vision to make a movie right, but because the editing is more often than not done by a whole different outfit who perhaps can improve a bad film to the level of mediocrity, but can more certainly bring down a good film to the level of mediocrity.
Judging by the number of reviews I didn't see, I have to assume Keane didn't do that well at the box office, since it was missed by the usual critics. Too bad. I can't help but think it's the uninspired title, evocative of a documentary about Roy Keane the British footballer, that held it back, though its quality deserved to carry it forward. Soderberg should've intruded with a better title to facilitate distribution rather than intrude with a variant edit.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl