TIFF 2023: Michael Keaton makes his second directorial effort with Knox Goes Away - when was his first?

Michael Keaton returns to the director's chair for the first time since 2008, as ‘Knox Goes Away’ receives its TIFF 2023 premiere overnight.

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Michael Keaton’s latest directorial effort, the neo-noir ‘Knox Goes Away,’ received its premiere over the weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival 2023 and with a cast that includes Al Pacino, Marcia Gay Harden and James Marsden, Keaton’s second time sat behind the camera boasts a lot of talent.

Keaton plays John Knox, a hitman suffering from a fast-moving form of dementia, who is presented with the opportunity to redeem himself by saving the life of his estranged adult son. But to do so he must race against the police closing in on him as well as the ticking clock of his own rapidly deteriorating mind.

The film was based on a script written by Gregory Porier, not often known for his serious films having written scripts for ‘National Treasure: Book of Secrets,’ ‘The Spy Next Door’ and ‘Gossip,’ which saw him work once before with James Marsden. Porier also created, executive produced and wrote the ABC mystery series ‘Missing’, starring Ashley Judd, which aired for one season in 2012

The film has been getting early acclaim that you would expect for Michael Keaton’s performance, with Deadline going as far as to say alongside his aptitude for directing the film “he also delivers one of his finest and most poignant performances” and that “this is the kind of absorbing old fashioned, solidly crafted and immersive dramatic thriller that you might have seen Bogart or a Robert Mitchum do in their later years.” 

“It is easy to see what not only attracted Keaton to the role, but also why he might want to take creative charge to make sure it is done right. He succeeds admirably on both counts [...]”

But ‘Knox Goes Away’ isn’t the first feature film that Michael Keaton has directed; for that, we need to delve into history at a time before the Michael Keaton renaissance took hold of the cinematic world.

What was Michael Keaton’s directorial debut?

That would be the 2008 drama ‘The Merry Gentleman,’ starring Michael Keaton alongside ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and ‘Trainspotting’ actress Kelly Macdonald. The film follows a woman who leaves an abusive relationship to start a new life in Chicago, where she forms a friendship with a hitman who is undergoing his own emotional crisis. 

Originally, Keaton was only meant to star in the film however after its original director, Ron Lazzeretti, suffered a ruptured appendix and underwent extensive treatment, Keaton took the reigns as its director when it became apparent that the film would be shelved from production. 

The drama surrounding the movie didn’t end there though; a dispute soon arose between the producers and Keaton on his alleged lack of effort in cutting and promoting the movie. They sued for breach of contract, leading to Merry Gentleman, LLC v. George & Leona Prods., Inc.

The movie made its debut at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and hit theatres on May 1, 2009, receiving favourable reviews. As of June 2020, it maintains a 65% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, derived from 77 reviews and boasting an average rating of 5.91/10.

Where can I watch Michael Keaton’s directorial debut?

You can watch ‘The Merry Gentleman’ on Amazon Prime Video as part of a subscription service to the platform. 

Is ‘Knox Goes Away’ screening again at TIFF 2023?

‘Knox Goes Away’ has one final public screening at the Toronto International Film Festival this evening at the Roy Thomson Hall at 5:30pm EDT.

When does ‘Knox Goes Away’ get a general theatrical release?

No word yet on when ‘Knox Goes Away’ is getting a general release date, however, there is a screening this week for press and industry, so perhaps a deal will be made and more news on a release date might be confirmed at the end of TIFF 2023?

How do I get tickets to the Toronto International Film Festival 2023?

There are three ticketing options available for the Toronto International Film Festival 2023 once again. They are:

  • Curated Ticket Packages. On sale in June, these packages provide guaranteed access to multiple screenings or events with a common genre or theme, with screening dates, times and seating locations selected by TIFF. A great option for film lovers who want seats locked in for their favourite programme.

  • Individual Tickets. Purchase tickets to screenings one-by-one and get the exact seat you want. The best way to get a ticket to the films you want to see the most. Tickets are on sale in August, with Members having priority access.

  • Flexible option. For Members, save 20% on Regular screenings when purchasing a ticket bundle. This option will only be available on the TIFF Festival Account Manager

Tickets range between $26 to $32 Canadian dollars for regular screenings, then $39 to $88 Canadian dollars for premium screenings.