The Merry Gentleman
Facts and Figures
Run time: 110 mins
In Theaters: Friday 4th December 2009
Box Office USA: $0.3M
Distributed by: IDP/Samuel goldwyn Films
Production compaines: Jackson Income Fund, Merry Gentleman, South Water Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 47 Rotten: 27
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
The Merry Gentleman Movie Review
Frank (Keaton) and Kate (Macdonald) see each other before they meet. He's a hitman on top of a building, efficiently going about his grisly business; she's a lively office worker still recovering after running away from her abusive husband (Cannavale). They meet later, in a cute Christmas sort of way, and strike up a warm and wary friendship. Both aren't so much lonely as alone.
Although Kate has a new friend (Hunt) at the office and has attracted the attentions of the cop (Bastounes) investigating who she saw on that rooftop.
And that's about it. The film has a very gentle rhythm to it that never shifts up a gear. It's a meandering look at two people who seem to have nothing in common but have somehow managed to save each others' lives. Of course, the title is an ironic reference to the Christmas carol, and Keaton plays Frank as an enigma, finding a remarkable stillness in every scene. Macdonald has a kind of stillness too, except that we can see her emotional core churning through every scene. Both performances are graceful and moving.
And as the film silently follows these two very private people, it achieves a kind of elegant soulfulness, even tough it seems to be progressing in slow motion. There's a heavy whiff of fatalism involved in Lazzeretti's minimalist plot and chit-chat dialog, which lends itself nicely to Keaton's dark, brooding direction and creepy overtones that hint at a thriller that seems to be taking place off-screen.
Because behind these reticent people are lives that hint at violence and suicidal tendencies. But both also have an almost reluctant will to survive.
The film is strong enough to bring all of this out with an intelligence that's never remotely pretentious. And for two rather uninteresting people, we do find ourselves interested in who they really are and where they're going from here.