To paraphrase Chekhov: If you introduce a suicidal hit man and a cop with a temper in the first act, viewers will expect mayhem before the curtain comes down. Those audiences are going to be frustrated by this flawed but intriguing character study. Hired killer Frank (Keaton) crosses paths with Kate (Macdonald), who’s just started a new life in Chicago and witnesses one of the mob assassin’s jobs. The investigating officer (Bastounes) quickly becomes smitten with the young woman, but so does Frank, who follows her home and collapses while helping her carry a Christmas tree to her apartment. These two quiet, lonely people form a tentative friendship; things get further complicated when Kate’s ex-husband, an abusive cop (Cannavale), tracks her down. Three men, one woman, multiple guns...never a good combination.
It often feels as though Keaton wishes all that plot would go away so he could focus his attention on the movie’s central friendship, rendered in scenes of tranquil silence. As a director, the star isn’t especially polished, but there’s something likable about his effort not to make yet another quirky, smirky film about a hit man in a funk.—Hank Sartin