Keane
R1 - America - Magnolia Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and Damian Kissick (24th July 2006).
The Film

There is no doubt that dealing with the loss of a child is an agonizing ordeal. William Keane is still extremely tormented six months on from the abduction of his six year old daughter Sophie. "Keane" begins with William (Damian Lewis) at the Port Authority bus terminal, the scene of the abduction, frantically approaching busy commuters and pleading with them to help him find his daughter and when he is not spending his days wandering the station or places the kidnapper could have gone, he abuses himself with drugs and heavy drinking in the evenings. He soon meets Lynn (Amy Ryan) and her 7 year old daughter Kira (Abigail Breslin) and the two make a heart-warming connection because of Kira missing her father and Keane longing for his daughter.
It all sounds like a wonderful recipe for a 'happily-ever-after' story but in reality it is a harrowing tale focusing on loss and how we cope with such tragedies, and although we are not directly told, Keane's erratic behavior infers a mental illness that makes this even more challenging. His outbursts at people who he believes are staring at him provide strong clues to this, along with his cashing of the sickness benefit. It is also never proven that there exists a Sophie or the purported abduction of his daughter even happened : could this merely be something he has created intentionally or even subconsciously for himself? Then after posing such a potentially significant question, you would have to ask yourself : does that change anything?
In terms of direction and cinematography, we as the viewers are following Keane from his point of view using camera close-ups. The effect from this method is that we understand his state of mind - when the camera is zoomed up alongside him we experience the same unsettled feelings along with unsteady tracking to reflect his inner turmoil. This contrasts well when he is in a more stable state of mind and the camera is zoomed out to show him in his surrounding environment, even accepting it.
The most important thing to be prepared for in "Keane" is that you are alongside him throughout moments that will at times leave you apprehensive but at the same time you feel a genuine sympathy towards him. Visceral feelings of fear from what could develop from his hysteria and sympathy for the sadness of a daughter snatched away from him and well after the film ends, there are ambiguities that open themselves to interpretation. What does he see in Kira? His daughter Sophie, or a young girl in need of a fatherly figure?
There is no sense in me denying that I was lured to watch "Keane" initially based on the fact that it starred British thespian Damian Lewis. Ever since his turn in "Band of Brothers" (2001) I have been compelled to keep an eye out for the actor and his portrayal of Keane, a father racked by grief and guilt, is brilliant and feels truthful and natural for this character. Lewis is well supported by the acting of young Abigail Breslin whom he befriends and her mother Lynn. But while their performances are excellent, it is the disturbed Keane himself who sets the scene.
While it may have not been an aim of the film, I found parts of "Keane" almost unbearable to watch due to the building apprehension over what comes next (as mentioned earlier). Of course, your mileage may vary but in those moments I felt like leaving to grab a drink. However, there is always hope for Keane to overcome his grief and personal conflict and it is this alone that makes the story compelling. Lodge Kerrigan, director and writer of "Keane", is no stranger to the darker reality themes as one of his previous films, "Clean, Shaven" (1994) focuses on a young Schizophrenic man trying to get his daughter back and as a result many parallels can be drawn between these two films. When I sat down to write this review (and accidental dissection) of "Keane" I was prepared to give it at least a "B+" but after realizing the profound effect it has had on me to provoke discussion, I am struck with an "A" class film.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.78:1, this anamorphic transfer is for the most part sharp and clean, although many of the night scenes and interiors tend to loose their edge. I did notice some compression noise throughout the print, and blacks were at times a little murky, the colors were at times not as deep as they should have been, this is the byproduct of shooting on digital as it occasionally doesn't pick up as much color as film does. Otherwise for a low budget film it is a fairly good transfer.

Audio

Only one audio track is include, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. The dialogue is clear and shows no signs of distortion, I found that the environmental surrounds worked well, especially those of the bus station immerse you in the location. Other scenes didn't have the same depth to them, although I can understand the lack of directional sounds in a hotel room. As far as a surround track goes it's not a ground breaking 5.1 mix, but it won't totally disappoint either.
Optional subtitles are also included in Spanish only.

Extras

The only major extra we have here is an alternate cut of the film from executive producer Steven Soderbergh. The film is preceded by a text screen with a message from Soderbergh about this edit. The alternate cut is also presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. The soundtrack and image quality are comparable to the original cut. This version of the film puts more emphasis on the character than his situation. It's an interesting addition to the film. Soderbergh's edit is much more moody than Kerrigan's cut. It would have been valuable to have added an audio commentary with the director and executive producer, instead we can make our own minds up in regards to which version holds up better, or in my case I actually like both interpretations of the story.

Rounding out the extras are a collection of bonus trailers. The first 3 are start-up trailers (which can't be accessed from the Menu!) and can be skipped by pressing the Menu button on your remote):
- The World's Fastest Indian which runs for 2 minutes 10 seconds.
- One Last Thing which runs for 2 minutes 15 seconds.
- HDNet promo spot which runs for 32 seconds.
- Bubble which runs for 1 minute 21 seconds.
- Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room� which runs for 1 minute 56 seconds.
- Klepto which runs for 2 minutes 23 seconds.
- A League of Ordinary Gentlemen which runs for 1 minute 49 seconds.
- Pulse which runs for 1 minute 40 seconds.
- The Seat Filler which runs for 1 minute 48 seconds.
- The War Within which runs for 2 minutes 3 seconds.

Overall

The Film: A Video: B Audio: B Extras: B Overall: B+

 


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