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KEANE

Director: LODGE KERRIGAN

U.S.A • 2004 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 95 MIN


LODGE KERRIGAN’S LONG-AWAITED THIRD FEATURE IS ONE OF THE MOST REMARKABLE AMERICAN FILMS OF THE YEAR.
Fevered desperation is etched on his features as William Keane (Damian Lewis) searches a New York bus station for evidence to help him track down his abducted daughter. It soon transpires that the events in question happened several months ago, so his relentless questioning of chance passers-by seems misguided at best, evidence perhaps of some deeper psychological malaise. Like his debut Clean, Shaven, Lodge Kerrigan’s most recent feature is an unflinching yet compassionate look at a damaged mind, generating immense sympathy for an individual crushed by misfortune, yet also a tightening foreboding as the unstable, coke-fuelled protagonist strikes up a tentative friendship with a single mum (Amy Ryan) and her sad-eyed little daughter (Abigail Breslin), fellow flotsam and jetsam at a flophouse hotel. Keeping his personal history under wraps, he’s soon babysitting the young girl, and it’s not hard to imagine the traumatic consequences for all concerned. With its concentrated, on-the-hoof shooting style reminiscent of the Dardenne brothers, the film demands a similar verisimilitude from its performers and certainly gets it—with interest!—from Lewis’s edgy, gasp-inducing turn as a man who seems capable of anything at any given moment, from a rush of paranoia launching a physical assault on an unfortunate stranger, to the intermittent stirrings of remembered tenderness in his tension-filled encounters with little miss Breslin. It’s quite an achievement, but Kerrigan never allows it overwhelm his finely calibrated depiction of humanity hanging in the balance of a fractured consciousness.—Trevor Johnston.

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