The Merry Gentleman

Director: Michael Keaton
Screenwriters: Ron Lazzaretti

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


A delicacy of tone transforms Michael Keaton’s The Merry Gentleman from what might have been a pedestrian tale into a beautifully romantic fable. Directed, photographed, and performed with a precision and style that mark a distinctive directorial debut, the film begins with a woman who leaves an abusive relationship to begin a new life in a new city, where she forms an unlikely and ironic relationship with a suicidal hit man (unbeknownst to her). Enter a worn, alcoholic detective to form the third party in a very unusual triangle, and this dark, soulful, sometimes-funny story begins to unfold.

Walking a line between the conventional and the idiosyncratic, Keaton creates a highly original yarn that has a quiet, sometimes-even-meditative quality, and frames a more-straightforward story about a woman’s accidental involvement in a murder investigation. Wonderfully composed and enacted, The Merry Gentleman features Keaton in the lead role opposite a gifted leading lady, Kelly Macdonald, who is at once enigmatic and iconographic in her portrayal of a woman trying to find her way in a cold world. The cop, played by Tom Bastounes, is a disheveled embodiment of male cluelessness and relentless pursuit. Together they are lonely figures in an urban landscape, one that exemplifies the isolation and need for personal relationships that we all carry with us.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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