The Merry Gentleman (R15)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner4/12/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Michael Keaton's directorial debut is a beautifully shot, low-key relationship drama with an engaging central performance from Kelly Macdonald but it's slightly let down by a disappointing ending and a curiously under-stated performance from Keaton.

What's it all about?
Directed by Michael Keaton, The Merry Gentleman stars Kelly Macdonald as Kate Frazier, a lonely office worker who's fleeing a relationship with her abusive ex-husband, Michael (Bobby Cannavale). Leaving the office one night Kate spots hitman Frank Logan (Michael Keaton) on a rooftop as he completes a job; however, unbeknownst to her, he's suicidal and the sight of her prevents him from going through with it.

Shortly afterwards, Kate and Frank run into each other on the street and the pair strike up a tentative friendship, bonding over the fact that they're both preparing to spend Christmas alone (though Kate doesn't recognise Frank as the figure from the roof). Meanwhile, Kate has also attracted the attention of Detective Dave Murcheson (co-producer Tom Bastounes), the cop assigned to the murder she witnessed.

The Good
Macdonald is extremely good as Kate; there's a sort of adorable sadness to her performance that just makes you want to give her a hug – it's easy to see why Frank and Dave both fall for her, despite the fact that she has relatively little dialogue. There's also strong support from Bastounes (who delivers a likeably offbeat performance as Dave) and from Darlene Hunt as Kate's chatty, ginger co-worker Diane.

The film is beautifully shot throughout, courtesy of Chris Seager's impressive cinematography, and there's also a superb soundtrack by Ed Shearmur. In addition, the relationship between Kate and Frank is intriguing in that it isn't a straightforward romance but rather two lonely people reaching out to each other.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film isn't without its problems; Keaton underplays Frank so much that you never get a feel for his character, whilst the ending is something of an anti-climax. In addition, the script is occasionally pretentious and cliched (it seems like every scriptwriting class contains at least one tedious screenplay about a suicidal / sensitive hitman called Frank and there are strong hints of that screenplay within The Merry Gentleman).

Worth seeing?
On balance, The Merry Gentleman is worth seeing for Kelly Macdonald's performance and the occasionally moving sadness of the central relationship but it's not as satisfying as it should have been.

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Content updated: 22/01/2020 04:01

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