Iconic Canadian director Guy Maddin is presenting his latest mind-bending opus Keyhole here as a Special Presentation.
Shot in his trademark black and white, the Odyssey-inspired film stars Jason Patric as Ulysses Pick, a gangster who returns one stormy night to his house after a long absence in an effort to see his wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini) who is hiding out in a room upstairs.
This is initially a gangster story so what were you plotting when you devised it?
I wanted to cross-pollinize a ghost story and a gangster story and capture the flavours of both haunted house and gangster movies. They seem to go well together, like peanut butter and bacon. But it’s also the autobiography of a house. For years I was treated to a cycle of dreams featuring a cavalcade of dead relatives but in recent years that has been replaced by dreams of homes, including my childhood home, in which people weren’t visible. There were all sorts of chambers in architectural structures in these dreams. So in this film I wanted to recreate these dreams for posterity. In many ways, making a film is a therapeutic device to move on. You get sick of the subject because of the vast array of shots you have to do on it that you can’t help but get over it.
So the film is about a house rather than a version of The Odyssey?
I used the plot structure of The Odyssey because I am not a dramatist. I am a big fan of The Poetics Of Space by Gaston Bouchelard which was a bestseller in the 1950s and explored the phenomenoplogical power of spaces in a house. That is the compass and what I used to poke around the subject.
Did you shoot in an actual house?
I wanted to but it was too complicated and eventually we built a set. The film is a fairy tale anyway so I love the idea of rooms shifting around. I also change the point of view. Most of the film is from Jason Patric’s point of view but towards the end I pull a switcheroo and change it to his son’s eyes to show that the house can be experienced through many points of view.
Did you enjoy working with Jason Patric?
He is a force. He is Odysseus in real life and he has incredible menace which doesn’t stop after you say cut. But then his earliest memories growing up are on the set of The Exorcist with his father [Jason Miller] so maybe that’s not surprising. I went out drinking every night with him, Udo Kier and Louis Negin and realized the next day that this was how John Huston felt every morning.