How much can a tragedy that marked our childhood change the course of our life? What does it mean to carry forever the burden of a guilt or a of shocking image that has shattered the paradisiac shell of your own innocence? Without adhering to narrative or imagistic clichés about childhood’s beauty and touching naivety, ‘Being Keegan‘ is a short story film exploring in strident and sometimes hypnotic shades the returning of an adult to the city where he was born to confront the demons that obsess his mind in the attempt to understand or to atone his destiny marked by a trauma. At the limit between hallucination and nightmare, Stephanie Zari’s project is alert, sometimes dazzling, imitating either the reverse route of a soul through the tangles of its own stormy journey as in a strident sensory regression or the unpredictable kinetic of a rapid eye movement that captures obsessive sequences from the overwhelming process of emotional healing. Perhaps this fast-organoleptic regression of a short film such as ‘Being Keegan’ does not resemble Terrence Malick’s meditative poetical films (The Tree of Life or Knight of Cups), but certainly the emotional impact of this aggressively beautiful cinematic product has the ability to obsess the spectator’s imagination, debating the fragility of the human being in front of invisible and unjust forces that alter their existential path.
Jay and Sean are inseparable friends sharing the same passion for football, but also the same admiration for footballer Kevin Keegan, one of the heroes of the 1970s, for whom Liverpool has a deep respect. Bearing together the minuses of a world burdened by subsistence needs, there is a special emotional symbiosis between the two boys that makes them complement each other in the little adventures that pigment their life: the first cigarette smoked together, the thrill with which they dream of their own future, the moments when they spy together on the girls that arouse their first sexual thrills. But this apparently indestructible harmony will be shattered on a day when an accident occurs decisively in the lives of the two friends. Without respecting the objective chronology of Jay’s destiny, this short film renders the return, after 25 years, into this idyllic and traumatic space of the protagonist who, as an adult, relives his entire life, like a violent atonement.
Designed as an unpredictable pendulum between the present time and the subjective time of remembrance, Stephanie Zari’s project is a hallucinating cinematic experience about the limits of perception and about the traumatic abyss of the human soul who must accept its destiny. Following the purifying process of contact with our own obsessions, ‘Being Keegan’ manages to synthesize in an extremely credible manner the essential moments in the life of Jay who, from a passive posture, witnesses to his own trial, in a cathartic odyssey through the emblematic topoi of his own childhood. Without creating an ostentatious cinematic experiment that aggresses the viewer’s perception due to unreasonable visual and sound excess, the director draws in her project a complex and obsessive sensory periplus, which, although it short-circuits the comfort of the viewer, authentically depicts the violent process of emotional purification that the individual crosses by facing their own failures.
For the grim poeticism and the credibility with which it manages to illustrate the inner struggle of the individual facing the remorse, but also for the extraordinary ability to synthesize the emotional path of an antihero, of a guilty without fault, ‘Being Keegan’ was awarded with the 2nd Film of the Month distinction in the January 2018 edition of TMFF.