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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

THE MERRY GENTLEMAN (2008)

As if he doesn’t have enough trouble rousting up decent acting gigs, Michael Keaton had just as little luck on his helming debut w/ this modest-to-a-fault romantic noir. He plays a ruthlessly efficient hitman (his ‘cover’ job is being a tailor!) who’s spotted by Kelly MacDonald as she leaves her job one night. She sees a guy on the roof across the street and thinks he may be contemplating suicide. And maybe he was. Keaton tracks her down to her apartment and winds up ‘meeting-cute’ over a Christmas tree. Before you can say two-lonely-people, they begin a cautious relationship. But he’s a dangerous hitman/tailor and she’s got some issues, too: a violent ex & an even more violent Irish accent. (If only she was as adorable as the film wants her to be.) Add in a detective who’s suspicious, sympathetic & smitten and there’s more than enough going on to run a decent story line. Keaton has a real visual feel for the tone of the story, but he’s so darn indulgent toward the actors that you could drive a truck thru every other line. Pick up your cues, people. The hem-&-haw pacing is particularly disastrous for MacDonald who comes off as borderline imbecilic. It’s not an uninteresting pic, but its so enervated that it all but disappears as you watch it. Very few people did. Keaton deserves better.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Max Ophuls' THE RECKLESS MOMENT/'49 (or it's recent remake, THE DEEP END/02) mixes the gangster & romance genres to far greater effect.

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