Far be it for a Guy Maddin film to be bizarre. `Keyhole' is one of those films that feels so strange, almost uncomfortably so. I am not familiar with much of Maddin's work. In fact, I think I've only seen this and `The Saddest Music in the World' (which I loved) and so I'm not all that familiar with his style, although I can gather from those two experiences where his head is at.
For me `Keyhole' is far more about the style than the substance, which is a shame. `The Saddest Music in the World' felt so balanced in that regard, offering us enough style to accentuate the substance. Here, the substance seems stripped and the style amped to result in a bizarrely entertaining film that is overly long and ultimately forgettable. Still, there are aspects of this film that deserve our attention; namely the technical merits (those costumes and set pieces are to die for) and the central performances (Jason Patrick, Isabella Rossellini and Brooke Palsson taking top honors).
The plot is basically a sadistic fable that follows a gangster named Ulysses as he returns home with a drenched teenage girl and a bound and gagged young man. Ulysses is at odds with his wife, Hyacinth, who is secluded upstairs with her father. Despite the prospect of a mutiny between his gang of thugs, Ulysses is intend on finding his wife by searching the house room by room, twist by turn.
It's a warped film without a real sense of direction and yet it keeps you drawn to every frame. It's a film I feel like I can admire without loving and one that I may actually look back to with even more respect and admiration as time goes by. It is well worth seeing, and one to watch more than once, since the initial viewing is sure to be dampened by confusion.