In a house haunted with memories, gangster and father Ulysses Pick (Jason Patric) arrives home after a long absence with his gang in low. There is friction in the ranks. Ulysses, however, is focused on one thing: journeying through the house to reach his wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini) in her bedroom upstairs. His odyssey is hindered by dreamlike episodes and familial phantoms, an emotional journey that reveals secrets about the mysterious Pick family.
From Canadian director Guy Maddin comes the dream-like exploration that is Keyhole, though named by Maddin himself as his first exercise in “narrative film making” Keyhole is more akin to fevered nightmare of a gangster just as the police net closes in around him.
Loosely based on the Odyssey the movie tells the story of Ulysses Pick, the leader of a 1930’s style mob who find themselves hold-up in a huge mansion as the police surround them. With the body of a nearly dead woman over one shoulder and the bound and gagged form of his estranged son by his side Ulysses ventures through the labyrinthine house in search of his wife, who lies chained to her bed in the attic room.
Like the Odyssey Ulysses travels from one room to another, met by strangely mythical and dangerous visions of his family and his past, in search of his goal, all the time tormented by his father in law, the man who, whilst entirely naked, seems both captor and joint captive in the attic room with his wife.
A mentally, emotionally and visually distorting movie Keyhole is in fact very powerful, it is so reminiscent of a dream that sometimes you wonder whether this in fact your own nightmare as you, inexplicably tied to the ex-gangster Ulysses, venture through this house haunted by memories like malicious ghosts, one can’t help but be reminded of their own past and the fears and ghosts that you can never quite seem to shake.
Though an indefinably emotional film it would be inaccurate to describe Keyhole as moving or intriguing, instead I think it is best to call it engulfing, a film that, like so many restless dreams, pulls you in entirely only to throw you shaken and uncertain back into reality, haunted by what you have seen but unsure of how to interpret it.