Maddin's spiffy gangster spook-house talkie is the cat's pyjamas!
As Maddin’s first feature shot digitally, Keyhole lacks the consciously cruddy Vaseline-on-the-lens tactility of much of his other work. The result, in places, feels a bit like an exercise in the inimitable and instantly recognizable style of Guy Maddin, albeit one perpetrated by Guy Maddin. At the same time, considering how the use of yellowed, scratched-and-pocked film stocks is a defining element of this style, Keyhole seems like a step forward.
If Joyce took The Odyssey and fit it onto the topography of Dublin, Maddin takes epic compression one step further, casting Jason Patric as Ulysses, an amnesiac gangster shambling through his family home in an effort to find his wife, Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini). The surreal, typically Maddinesque wrinkle to the narrative fold: the house is chock-full of members of Ulysses’ gang, many of whom are conspiring against their boss. Also, the house is haunted. Like Brand Upon the Brain! or the docu-fantastic ethnography of My Winnipeg, Keyhole stages the play between space and memory as Ulysses treks through rooms, interacting with ghosts of his family. Anchored by Patric’s perfectly straight-faced performance and the characteristically funny script by Maddin and George Toles, Keyhole’s as engrossing and dreamy (points here to Louis Negrin’s hypnotic narration) as any of Maddin’s best work.