Gangsters And Ghosts In A House From Director Guy Maddin. 'Nuff Said.
Written by Matt Giles
Edited by Erin Accomando
The more films I see, the more I realize that what attracts me the most is something that is so inventive and original that, while it might not make sense at first, I'm always thinking about it. Keyhole meets that criteria in its opening scene alone with the rest of the film adding to my excitement and bewilderment. In a video interview at The Toronto International Film Festival, Guy Maddin himself said, "What I really wanted to make was an autobiography of a house.", which is probably the best way to describe exactly what Keyhole is about.
The house is truly the central character of the film, which stars Jason Patrick as Ulysses Pick, a gangster who leads his men to said house to hide out while on the run from the police. Ulysses, it turns out, has come back to his former home to search for his wife, Hyacinth, played by Isabella Rossellini, one of many ghosts still occupying the residence.
Nothing is quite as it seems in Keyhole; Ulysses is suffering from some sort of memory loss, but seems unconcerned with the fact that there are ghosts all around him; In the beginning of the film one of the gangsters asks their dead hostages to face the wall and the live ones to face him; characters show up randomly in the house such as a doctor played by Udo Kier; and a woman, Denny (Brooke Palsson), has supposedly drowned or is currently drowning yet is helping Ulysses by seemingly channeling Hyacinth, allowing him to speak with her. If what I'm saying does not make any sense, don't worry - that's because it doesn't. And yet in some strange way it does...
This is a house that has seen some pretty extraordinary things, and if we look at the film as the story of a house populated by the ghosts of its past, it all somehow comes together. In other words, Ulysses is not struggling with memory loss, the house is remembering certain moments from his life in it. Depending on the room he's in, different memories resurface.
If you watch the trailer for the film you'll see what you're in for should you decide to watch Keyhole. It's a wild ride full of disturbing images with fragmented dialogue and bizarre characters - and it is one of the most stimulating movies I have had the privilege of watching. It's fun if you just watch how the movie unfolds without worrying about the plot. It's Maddin's vision of a house with gangsters and ghosts thrown into the mix.
Keyhole certainly won't be for everyone. Maddin has often been called the Canadian David Lynch, a point that I completely agree with. Both Lynch and Maddin make movies that redefine the medium; they show us what movies are capable of. So if I had to describe what it's like watching a movie by either of these men, I feel it's best to end with a quote from Lynch's show, Twin Peaks: "I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange."