The Merry Gentleman             review by Bobby Blakey

I have always loved Michael Keaton so have been very happy to see his resurgence with such great performances in films like Birdman and Spotlight. The latest The Merry Gentlemen, is a film that is a bit older that is finally getting a release likely due to his rise back to where he belongs at the top but also features his directorial debut. Could this be one of those lost gems that is worth finding or does it miss the shot?

The Merry Gentleman follows Kate Frazier who hopes to find anonymity with a new home and a new job in Chicago after running away from a troubled marriage. What Kate finds instead is Frank Logan, a veteran hit man who intends to kill her when he learns she may be a witness to his latest hit. But when he realizes she is like him, a troubled soul haunted by the past, their relationship deepens, and his plans change. Now, Logan must decide if he should walk away from his old life or use it as a way to secure his future. The film features a great cast outside of Keaton including Kelly Macdonald, Bobby Cannavale, and Tom Bastounes, but despite the great cast it can never shake the holiday blues. The story is initially compelling and as the relationship grows between Keaton and Macdonald you expect things to take these two characters out of the darkness together, but instead it tends to limp along not sure of where it is wanting to go. The performances are all good and Keaton does a great job directing, but there is just something missing here that makes you never fully invest in the finished product. When the film works the best is when these two are together, but the things that are going on around them that are intended to add to the intrigue or tension never really do all that much. There is a moment where things start getting really great and you can see an impressive film unfolding and then it falls apart. There are too many implied moments offering up a less is more aspect which often times works, but here just needed it to really bring it home.

I think Keaton crafted a visually beautiful film and understands characters and how to make them compelling, but this film just fails to offer up anything all that memorable. It isn’t a bad film, just one that could have been so much better with a little more time fleshing out the script into something that really offered more of an impact. It’s always great seeing Keaton doing anything, so decide for yourself and check out A Merry Gentleman available now on VOD.

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