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Year: 2011
Language: English
Format: 35mm Black and White
Runtime: 105

Production Company: Buffalo Gal Pictures
Executive Producer: Phyllis Laing
Producer: Jody Shapiro, Jean du Toit
Screenplay: Guy Maddin, George Toles
Cinematographer: Ben Kasulke
Editor: John Gurdebeke
Production Designer: Richardo Alms
Costume Design: Heather Neale
Sound: John Gurdebeke, Jason Staczek
Principal Cast: Jason Patric,
Isabella Rossellini, Udo Kier, Louis Negin,
Brooke Palsson
Production: Buffalo Gal Pictures,
333-70 Arthur Street,
Winnipeg, MB R3B 1G7 Canada.
T (204) 956-2777
F (204) 956-7999
Canadian Distributor: Entertainment One
International Sales Agent:
Entertainment One Films International

Idiosyncratic, cheeky and uncategorizable, the films of Guy Maddin are testaments to the singular vision of a great contemporary cinema artist. A surreal indoor odyssey following one man’s struggle to reach his wife, Keyhole bewilders and captivates. It may be Maddin’s boldest film to date. Homer’s Odyssey has inspired many an artist, and Maddin pays homage to the epic poem in his own iconoclastic manner. But it’s the gangster and melodrama genres, as well as Maddin’s cinematic influences (particularly Buñuel and von Sternberg), that inform the film’s rich style. With all of this in mind, Maddin crafts a startling and original film that echoes the past yet is undeniably, refreshingly his own.

After a long absence, gangster and father Ulysses Pick (Jason Patric) arrives home towing

the body of a teenaged girl and a bound and gagged young man. His gang waits inside his house, having shot their way past police. There is friction in the ranks. Ulysses, however, is focused on one thing: journeying through the house, room by room, and reaching his wife Hyacinth (Isabella

Rossellini) in her bedroom upstairs. It also begins to seem possible that the characters in Keyhole may not be alive. Maddin is known for creating new worlds governed by their own logic and rules, and the bizarre exists at every turn in Keyhole’s maze. Ulysses is hindered by various obstacles, including the treachery of his own gang. His pursuit is also intercut by the ruminations of a phantom narrator: Hyacinth’s naked, chained father, the self-declared “enemy.” His odyssey eventually becomes an emotional tour, as the strange nooks and crannies of the house reveal more about the mysterious Pick family.

As unique as the film is, the subjects it explores are classic: loyalty and betrayal, male rivalry, family secrets and romantic longing. These are laced, of course, with a memorable dose of Maddinesque humiliation. Co-written by his long-time writing partner George Toles and vividly shot in digital (a departure for Maddin), Keyhole is a hypnotic, dreamlike journey into memory that takes place in an incredible haunted house. Maddin has become one of Canada’s most internationally respected filmmakers, and his latest work affirms his commitment to cinema of brazen originality.

The film was voted on to the Canada’s Top Ten list by an independent panel assembled by TIFF. At a discussion during the Top Ten screenings in Toronto, Maddin said that the film was, in part, a shotgun wedding of different subgenres and elements, fusing together conventions like a haunted house, spies and gangsters. Maddin confided that, though he couldn’t recall a specific film which combined these elements, he was very confident that the long running series of Ameircan films starring the Bowery Boys would have explored similar territory. Keyhole was also nominated for a Genie for Costume Design.

By: Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo