The French coined a term for cinema soaked in truth because it was soaked in reality: "cinema verite," meaning hand-held, up-close, quasi-documentary. The new "Keane" possibly takes this concept to its next mutation: It's "cinema-too-much-verite."
Hyper-intense, it feels so real it's disturbing, yet fascinating. Director Lodge H. Kerrigan studies a schizophrenic man in and around a huge, indifferent New York City bus terminal, a cesspool of human bleakness if ever there was one, and takes us so far inside his head it's eerie, and not particularly pleasant. But if Kerrigan's goal is to make us feel the humanity of even the most marginal people, it's a grand success. It's also totally fictional.
Damian Lewis, who was superb as Maj. Winters in "Band of Brothers," gives us poor William Keane's every fear and fury. He's a whirlwind of self-destructive energy bearding the baffled strangers who comprise his world. The story is that his own daughter was abducted earlier. Or was she? We're never sure if we're watching a victim or a madman, so our empathy is weirdly suspended. Keane somehow insinuates himself into the life of another shattered family, a woman (Amy Ryan) at loose ends with her daughter Kira (Abigail Breslin). Desperate, perhaps herself unmoored, she asks the clearly damaged Keane to care for her daughter for a couple of hours. It's an excruciating ordeal, for we feel Keane's desperate need to provide safety and sustenance but his inability to do so rationally. The film makes a compelling argument for the fundamental moral nature of man: Keane desperately wants to be good and, like most of us, he faces a mortal enemy in this struggle -- himself.
-- Stephen Hunter