Keane (2004) / Drama

MPAA Rated: R for sexuality, brief nudity drug use, and language
Running Time: 90 min.

Cast: Damian Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Amy Ryan
Director: Lodge Kerrigan
Screenplay: Lodge Kerrigan
Review published April 2, 2006

At the start of the film, William Keane is shown to be desperately looking for his young daughter in a bus terminal one day, claiming that she's missing without a trace.  He searches high and low, asking many people about her, and grows increasingly frustrated, and suspicious that she's been abducted.  Keane is also plagued by an apparent mental condition, possibly schizophrenia, which has him paranoid and delusional, but try as he might, he can't seem to get a handle on it.  He soon befriends a down-on-her-luck single mom and her precocious young daughter, which may just be the remedy Keane needs for his affliction -- or the poison that finally does him in. 

Written and directed by Lodge Kerrigan, Keane is a slow-moving, but ultimately rewarding, character study of a schizophrenic trying in vain to continue a normal existence as a regular, adjusted person.  Although the film starts with a father's quest to find his daughter, this is a film more about the man's psyche, calling into question whether or not his quixotic quest is truly fact, or if he ever had a daughter to begin with.  While the plot proceeds forward in a routine fashion once the other young daughter is introduced, the performances are generally solid, and there are a number of interesting, subtle surprises along the way. 

Kerrigan is revisiting material he has done before, most notably in his lesser-known film Clean, Shaven, which also features a schizophrenic father trying hard to get his daughter back.  Those that have seen that film might feel Keane to be somewhat redundant thematically, but for the vast majority that haven't seen Kerrigan's earlier work, Keane still impresses with Damian Lewis' (Dreamcatcher, An Unfinished Life) disturbing character portrayal, as well as moments of genuine intrigue.  Although critically praised, Keane will not be an easy watch for mainstream viewers, given its bleak subject matter, quirky camera work, and ambiguous protagonist.  If you're patient, it delivers a sympathetic glimpse into what it's like to be that creepy guy in the street that mutters to himself.

Qwipster's rating:

2006 Vince Leo