Keyhole: Guy Maddin's New Ghost House

Shot mostly in black-and-white by local cinematographer Ben Kasulke, Guy Maddin's latest feels like a rehash of all his prior films (My Winnipeg, Brand Upon the Brain!, etc.). It's a cluttered ghost house of memory and regret, stuffed with curios, taxidermy wolverines, and a few recognizable stars. Isabella Rossellini is back from The Saddest Music in the World. Here's Jason Patric, who doesn't have much better to do. Look—there's Kevin McDonald from The Kids in the Hall. And for eccentricity's sake, Udo Kier pops up in a few minor scenes. The text, sort of, is Ulysses' return to Penelope in The Odyssey; only here Patric is a 1930s-style gangster and the wife (Rossellini) is sequestered upstairs with the naked, chain-rattling ghost of her father. Downstairs, gangsters and gun molls quarrel, and Ulysses' four kids are gradually introduced, all with legitimate grudges against their pa. A half-drowned girl serves as the medium in this seance-as-movie, which suggests that past hurts can never be repaired or forgiven. "Our house is a strange labyrinth," says the ghost—but in Greek mythology, the labyrinth actually leads somewhere. Theseus does eventually kill the Minotaur, and there are consequences. Here, Maddin merely sends ghosts looking for ghosts. Ulysses is condemned to exile without hope for return.

 
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