Review: 'The Merry Gentleman'

A quiet drama about a lonely hit man who befriends a woman escaping an abusive marriage.

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In his uneven directorial debut "The Merry Gentleman," Michael Keaton plays a distinctly unmerry Chicago hit man named Frank Logan who falls for a mousy receptionist, Kate Frazier (Kelly Macdonald), on the run from an abusive cop husband (Bobby Cannavale). She, in turn, falls for Frank. Since their sparse scenes together are almost entirely devoid of dialogue about anything more pertinent than the weather, we have to take this love fest on faith. This is not impossible, since Macdonald, with her Scottish accent doing double duty, is so winsomely fetching that she seems to floor everyone she meets, including the detective (Tom Bastounes) zeroing in on Frank. Kate would make a great matchup with Sally Hawkins's Poppy from last year's "Happy Go Lucky." Without her, the generally well-acted "The Merry Gentleman" would descend into terminal lugubriousness. Grade: B (Rated R for language and some violence.)

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