There are eight million stories in the naked city ... Keane is one of them. The name belongs to William Keane, a mid-thirties divorcé who spends his days stalking the Port Authority Bus Terminal in search of nonexistent clues relating to the abduction of his young daughter. Keane’s search often lapses into paranoid delusion and recklessness: at one point he wanders the Port Authority, convinces himself of being watched by his daughter’s kidnapper, and then proceeds to beat up a harmless bystander. Damian Lewis plays the tragic, mentally unstable protagonist with subtle brilliance, managing to elicit both sympathy and discomfort from a realistic — yet never hammy — performance.
Director Lodge Kerrigan (Claire Dolan) is smart enough to film Lewis almost exclusively in close-up and in patched together sequences of long takes, in real environments (the fluorescent hell of the Port Authority and Keane’s hotel make for memorable spaces) and surrounded only by ambient noise, to emphasize the actor’s embodiment of his role. Comparisons — not entirely unfounded — will inevitably be drawn between Keane and the Dardenne brothers’ The Son. If only Kerrigan took his premise into darker and more complex areas than the one he chose: one-third into the film Keane crosses paths with a struggling mother and her — surprise! — young daughter, who becomes inexplicably trusted to his care. While Keane’s intentions (and, indeed, his entire backstory) get placed in doubt, the exhilarating first act haunts the comparatively contrived remainder, suggesting that predictability and familiarity are antithetical to a film with such a singular, unpredictable lead character.
Opens September 9 at Landmark Sunshine