Wednesday, 12 September 2012

film review: keyhole

Guy Maddin’s latest is, loosely, a haunted Odyssey set in a decrepit, (meta)physically imposing mansion and populated by ghosts and gangsters. Its allure comes not from plot, however, but execution: those already enamoured by the director’s avant-garde style should approach this return to feature-length filmmaking hungrily, laden as it is with his characteristic obsessions and trademark cinematic mannerisms. Maddin weaves a hypnotic psychodrama that is by turns unsettling, amusing, and provocatively enigmatic – though also, admittedly, occasionally tedious, with Keyhole’s vagaries ultimately paling next to the filmmaker’s best work.

But even a relatively minor film from Maddin still has plenty to recommend. The present-tense dream-logic ruptures any firm sense of narrative continuity, as carefully stacked obscurities beckon to be unpicked – not so much a puzzle to be solved, as a febrile stew of interlaced symbolism. If you’re unfamiliar with Maddin’s askew vision, more accessible entry points exist elsewhere in his filmography. But for those with the commitment and patience to peer in, Keyhole is frequently mesmeric.

On limited release 14th September

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