The Keeper | Chicago Reader

The Keeper

While attending law school, Paul Lamont (Giancarlo Esposito) works as a guard at a Brooklyn detention center, where he often gives prisoners free legal advice. Convinced that Jean Baptiste (Isaach de Bankole), who's from Haiti and accused of rape, is innocent, Paul, who rejected his own Haitian heritage, pays his bail and allows Jean to move in with him and his wife (Regina Taylor), despite her protests. This 1996 drama reveals the passionate interest writer-director Joe Brewster, a psychiatrist, has in the psychology of prisoners and prison guards. He draws an eerie parallel between the role of penal institutions in society and the work of the exterminator at the detention center, who has an unusual relationship to the roaches and rats he's paid to keep in check. But the filmmaker compromises the strong points of view of his central characters by plotting a bit heavily, leaving too little time for crucial shifts in Paul's development—though Esposito's adamant performance keeps the character convincing throughout.

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