Keane (2004)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 9, 2005 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

The crippling mental effects of losing a daughter to a kidnapper are explored in Keane, an intense character study brought into disquieting focus by actor Damien Lewis. There are hundreds of ways to make this subject matter play like a goopy TV movie, but writer-director Lodge Kerrigan resists them by never giving the audience any information beyond the immediate perspective of the main character. And because the underappreciated Lewis exudes such instability, his perspective is totally unreliable. He could either be a grieving father or a damaged psychopath, and neither Lewis nor Kerrigan is going to let the audience off the hook as to which one. Yet Lewis is also clever enough in his portrayal to make viewers like him and root for him in spite of their reservations, gaining their sympathy by doing his best with what he's got, regardless of what came before. Lewis brings us into a world of eternal now, where every moment is broken down into "can I find my daughter or can't I," and the daily human needs get accomplished (or fail to get accomplished) haphazardly and absently. The whole film has that same scruffy feel that Lewis brings to it, in keeping with Kerrigan's indie background and that of his producer, Steven Soderbergh. Amy Ryan (briefly) and Abigail Breslin (more crucially) lend excellent support to Lewis' central madness. Kerrigan's only possible mistake is that he relies a little too much on Keane talking to himself, which -- even though his dialogue is not particularly expository -- feels at times like a screenwriting shortcut, a brief reliance on telling instead of showing. But the major impression left by Keane is how powerlessness transforms a person, to the point that they're unrecognizable even to themselves.