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Keane | DVD Review

“Lewis gives one of the most fascinating and visceral performance in years. It’s a shame that his colossal performance was overlooked by the members of the Academy.”

Once in a while, there are films that leave viewers breathless and in awe from the first to the last frame. Lodge Kerrigan’s Keane is certainly one of those films – a deeply moving and riveting cinematic experience.

William Keane is a man ranging the New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, looking for his lost daughter. Between days of relentless searching and nights of drug and alcohol abuses, he teeters on the edge of sanity. In a cheap flophouse, he meets Lynn (Amy Ryan) a financially strapped young woman and her 7-year-old daughter, Kira (Abigail Breslin). Keane receives disability checks and gives Lynn money, which she needs badly enough to accept. The story evolves to a whole new level when Keane becomes increasingly attached to the child and as it merges that Keane’s daughter may never have existed at all.

The director made a startling cinematic debut with Clean, Shaven. Made in 1994, this film featured a brilliant performance by Peter Greene (who appeared the same year as Zed’s character in Pulp Fiction) as a schizophrenic who is desperately trying to get his daughter back from her adoptive family. In many ways, Keane is similar but more ambiguous than Clean, Shaven and both films plunges us into the mind of a deranged and mentally-ill character. Keane is shot in hand-held camera very-close to the lead character throughout the whole movie. This brilliant razor-sharp film technique allows the director to portrait an astonishing and complex study of an unsuspecting man trapped inside his own head. In the title lead-role, British actor Damian Lewis gives one of the most fascinating and visceral performance in years. It’s a shame that his colossal performance was overlooked by the members of the Academy.

In addition to a beautiful and crisp transfer, there’s only one bonus on this edition. And what a bona-fide bonus it is: it’s an alternate cut of the film made by none other than Steven Soderbergh, who also served as executive producer on the movie. In a text screen preceding the alternate cut, Soderbergh writes: “While I was away on location, Lodge sent me a copy of ‘Keane’ to look at before he locked picture. I loved the film and told him so, but also sent him this version to look at, in case it jogged anything (it didn’t). In any event, we agreed it was an interesting (to us) example of how editing affects intent. Or something.”

This alternate cut is 15 minutes shorter than the official director’s version. Although I definitely prefer the original cut, this version is more focus on Keane’s profoundly unsettled universe and less on his relations with Lynn’s character. It’s still a pretty interesting and alternate way to look at this fantastic and deeply-complex humane character of William Keane.

The only thing missing about this edition is a commentary track with both Kerrigan and Soderbergh on either cut of the film. Other than that it’s a must-have dvd of one of the most intense and powerful dramas of the last few years.

Movie rating – 5

Disc Rating – 4

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