VIDEO: The trailer for The Merry Gentleman
In his startling directorial debut, Michael Keaton plays a mysterious figure moving among big city shadows: not Batman, but a hitman who befriends a young Irish woman (an endearing Kelly MacDonald) with a secret of her own. He's suicidal; she's in denial, fleeing from an abusive boyfriend and explaining away a nasty shiner. Together, they become entangled in a conventional, if effective, suspense plot.
But the film is really about a different kind of suspense: how lonely people try to find each other, and whether they can dispel the inner rhythms they've created to protect themselves while groping in social darkness. As in Klute, emotion overwhelms genre — you know you're in unusual and welcome territory when the sharpest tension arises out of the excruciating conversational silences two people must cross as they try to connect.