Saturday, August 23, 2008

For posterity's sake.

I wrote and posted this on IMDb some time back in response to yet another post making the highly questionable declaration that all of Keanu's characters are exactly alike.

So here goes; an analysis of those of Keanu's characters that I know well enough to analyse.

[Literature student cum writer]

Neo - the introverted loner geek and unwilling saviour stressed by his destiny because of his low self-confidence; Ted Logan, the cheerful, trusting teenager who sees the good in everyone and isn't that conventionally intelligent, but with a quick creative mind and a sense of awe at the world; John Constantine, hardened world-weary exorcist who sees the world through cynical eyes and takes orders from none but himself, armed with his own personal moral code, stubborn to the point of personal detriment; David Allen Griffin, slightly psychotic serial killer who enjoys playing with people's minds;

Jjaks Clayton, somewhat confused guy who means well and is just trying to make his own sense of things; Tommy, the eccentric teenager with an impulsive streak who's a bit of a prankster; Matt, lost in his frustrated despair at the world, sometimes feeling like the only sane one around whom no one understands; Alex Wyler, regular nice guy, but filled with growing desperation at the lack of direction in his life; Donnie Barksdale, angry wife-beater, who knows his strength and is not afraid to use it, and who would be fun to poke with a stick; Johnny Utah, brimming with self-confidence bordering on arrogance, spirited, crazy and carefree and wild;

Kevin Lomax, torn between pride and his conscience, suffering quietly the moral consequences of his actions that he pushes aside and tries to bury, hating himself for the things he does and living a life of denial; Siddharta, the Buddha, raised sheltered from the hurts of the world, full of innocent horror at the harsh realities of life; Scott Favor, recalcitrant rich not-straight kid, rebellious for the sake of rebellion, quietly manipulating others for his own selfish ends, betraying their trust and leaving;

Conor O'Neill, kind of twitchy and always on-edge with a somewhat volatile personality, a messed up guy suffering from alcoholism and addictions and gambling problems and all sorts of other things in his screwed up life, and sometimes he just wants to give up but there's a defiant fighting spirit in him that won't let him do so; Julian Mercer, womanising doctor who seems simultaneously puzzled and amused with life; Jack Traven, quiet jock prone to sudden explosions of temper, a person with good intentions but not much ability to properly execute them;

Shane Falco, the perpetually accident-prone, going doggedly about his life and viewing his better past with nostalgic resignation; Perry Lyman, philosophical dentist who can't quite decide what he thinks about life, which frustrates him, secretly, in bursts of private controlled anger that the public only glimpse, tempered with a paternal, almost motherly gentleness; Paul Sutton, polite gentleman who just wants to do what's right, even if at his own expense; Tod Higgins, somewhat of an airhead, with a one-track mind that enables peaceful oblivion to the possible consequences of his actions, living for the moment and not quite conscious of either the past or future;

Tom Ludlow, rough foul-mouthed cop, brutal, working on his own terms with his own sense of justice and not caring about what others think of him; Nelson Moss, arrogant self-obsessed workaholic with no time for others; Eddie Talbot, a teen with a good heart, emotionally damaged by his family problems but hiding it and presenting a cheerful facade to the innocent parties, while in private is mired by feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem, and a deep-seated anger at his family that sometimes turns violent; Jesse Walker, energetic, talkative, won't effing shut up, touchy-feely, impulsive and yet still very much a kid;

Eric: No one ever cares about Eric. Seriously this guy is the only of Keanu's characters who doesn't have a single photo on any of the three main fansites. Poor guy. People don't know he exists. I don't know anything about him other than that he has a motorbike; Bob Arctor, still trying to hold his life together as his mind slowly breaks down, angry at the system and the inhumaness of the almost-robotic people who run society; Eddie Kasalivich, eager nerd trying to prove himself;

Marlon James, practically brain-dead drug addict, sleepwalking through life; Ron Petrie, rebellious smart aleck, defiant of authority but it's mostly just an act, for when it gets down to it he still has his own internal sense of right and wrong which he feels pressured to follow; Kip, dazed fellow, an introvert and a bit of a socially-inept weirdo who's not too aware of his surroundings, and yet someone who can hurt people, mostly out of avoidance, because he's someone who tries not to get too involved in things and prefers to keep his distance.

[/Literature student cum writer]


There are more, but I don't know them as well and so I'll just leave them out here. I haven't even watched most of those films; what I know was garnered from things like pictures and short Youtube clips. It takes talent for an actor to be able to project a character and have people 'get it' in the span of five minutes or so.

They make a brilliant ensemble cast, seriously. Characters who are all alike do not make brilliant ensemble casts. Ergo Keanu's characters are not all alike. QED.

1 comment:

Louie said...

Perhaps you misinterpreted my poll. What I meant was that he's not remembered for specific roles so much as he's memorable for being Keanu Reeves. I am a fan of his acting. I don't mean "he plays the same character" in the literal sense. However, he has a distinguishable style, a style that is very much his own. He's certainly shown greater variety than say, Michael Cera, who has gone from playing an inhumanly awkward teenager to playing a reasonably awkward teenager. If anything, Ted is one of Keanu's "departure" roles, since he's been so stiff and sullen in many other movies since then. This works for stuff like "The Matrix" and "A Scanner Darkly" but I imagine it wouldn't be the best for a Cameron Crowe romantic comedy.