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Movie Review

The Merry Gentleman

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The Merry Gentleman
Photo Source: The Samuel Goldwyn Company
The title The Merry Gentleman may throw you, as little is merry about this gentleman except that the story takes place at Christmas. Michael Keaton, in his feature directorial debut, leads the cast as Frank Logan, a suicidal hit man whose latest attempt at offing himself is thwarted when a seeming angel from heaven—Kate, an abused wife on the run, played by Kelly Macdonald—views him in silhouette while he is on the verge of plunging off a building. Kate lets out a shriek, stopping Frank, though not stopping him from assassinating his target from that same rooftop moments earlier. Questioned by the police, she offers little clue to the gunman. Soon after, Frank tracks Kate down, leaving the audience wondering if he's intending to eliminate an innocent witness or to thank her for saving his life. His poker face gives neither motive away, but to our surprise and theirs, the two strangers embark on an unlikely romantic friendship, both keeping secrets from the other, while opening up to the possibility of sharing a little tenderness.

Keaton's understated performance is his most low-key to date, and it's a subtle portrayal of a man torn apart by the untold demons inside. Those demons are quieted when he meets Kate; Frank finds himself with a worthwhile purpose for a change: caring for the happiness and safety of another. As a director, Keaton does a fine job. He has a strong visual eye, and there's a cool style to his filmmaking.

Keaton could have restrained some of his actors more, especially Bobby Cannavale, playing Kate's estranged husband. Relatively unknown Tom Bastounes, who also is a producer on the film, likewise needed a heavier hand from his director. Darlene Hunt, however, nails her performance as Kate's new co-worker. Besides Keaton, the standout is Macdonald, who wowed us in No Country for No Men but who gets to go much deeper here as the lead. That she got to keep her Scottish accent adds a nice flavor to the film. Macdonald plays Kate not as a victim but as a survivor whose heart is capable of opening up again though she's leery of revealing too much too soon.

Genre: Drama
Written by: Ron Lazzeretti
Directed by: Michael Keaton
Starring: Keaton, Kelly Macdonald, Bobby Canavale, Tom Bastounes, Darlene Hunt

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