In Keane, filmmaker Lodge Kerrigan confirms something every commuter dreads: Transportation stations may be gateways to home and security, but they can also be places where people become hopelessly lost.
One such monolith is New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal. There, William Keane (Damian Lewis) pesters transit workers for any scrap of information about his young daughter, who he says was abducted from the facility the previous year. With no relief from his suffering in sight, Keane himself has gotten lost: He's a shambling collage of muttered kidnap fantasies, alcoholic miseries and bitter self-recrimination.
When a distraught woman living in Keane's hotel entrusts him with temporary guardianship of her own daughter, he's thrust back into the role of protector not the safest responsibility for a borderline nutcase who's nursing a heavy case of paternal denial. Director Kerrigan (Clean, Shaven) uses tight close-ups to nurse our sense of panic over this ill-advised pairing. Whenever the camera tilts down from Keane's half-crazed face, we pray we'll see that the at-risk girl has fled or, better yet, that she was just a figment of his imagination in the first place. (It's a clever reversal of the terror adults feel when a child momentarily vanishes from their sight.)
The tension is almost unbearable, yet through it all, Keane retains our deepest sympathy. In his position, who knows what we would do? A small wonder of a minimalist morality tale, the movie understands that life isn't black or white, but made up of decisions arrived at under extreme duress. And intentions that, like loved ones, can be tragically misplaced.