The Merry Gentleman
Time/Place: 11:50am showing at Edwards Westpark 8
This is the first review of a movie off of my recent Summer Movies 2009 preview post, and it was a great way to kick things off. I know this picture won’t be for everyone – it’s too smart and subtle. That’s not a dig at you, either (well, okay, it sort of is), just a fair warning. If you enjoy movies with a calm pace, good story, and deep characterizations, The Merry Gentleman might be your cup of tea – it certainly was for me.
I did some reading about this movie’s production story and it made me all the more impressed. One of the most interesting things I read was a lengthy interview with Michael Keaton, star and director of the movie, which you can read HERE. I personally suggest seeing the movie first, but if spoilers and other things don’t bother you, read on – as a moviemaker, I found it highly intriguing.
This was Michael Keaton’s directorial debut, and I really can’t wait to see him do another one. The pacing of the movie was one that I rarely, if ever, see. It was slow, but beautifully and realistically so. It wasn’t a long, drawn out piece reminiscent of perhaps Stanley Kubrick… the pauses were lulls in conversation or uncertainties during tense situations – very real reactions. Keaton’s choice in style was just as on the nose for me, with a beautiful eye for framing each shot and simple use of light.
Just as with his direction, Keaton’s performance was great. He’s always great, though. Every other actor involved was just as fun to watch, obviously with an extra 5 points awarded to our star, Kelly MacDonald. There is a very intense scene in which she is confronted by someone in unnerving circumstances, and she does more in that scene to portray a woman terrified for her life than others might – and it’s all without saying a word.
As always, everything owes everything to the script, and The Merry Gentleman doesn’t break that consistency. Keaton’s direction is fantastic, with a slow and steady pacing, but part of that is due to the script itself. The movie takes time to get from points A to B, and it makes no excuses for anything else over the duration of its length. If you see it, and dislike it for reasons of misunderstanding, I’d love to talk to you about it. The Merry Gentleman is a deep, smart, and moving picture – and one I look forward to seeing again.