Sep 1, 2017
by Diane McCurdy, Film and Book Reviews
In order to really appreciate The Keepers, which is available for streaming on Netflix, it is necessary to reflect on two other presentations that preceded it: the film, Spotlight, and the T.V. series, The Making of a Murderer. Spotlight won the Academy Award in 2016 for best picture. It is a routine examination of several investigative journalists’ inquiry into the clergy abuse of innocent children in the Boston archdiocese and the subsequent cover-up. I would have preferred a more psychological approach. What was in the minds of these men, supposed men of god, to have perpetrated such diabolical acts?The Making of a Murderer was an episodic documentation providing a 10-year glimpse into the life of Steven Avery who was incarcerated for a murder he did not commit and later when law suits were filed he was charged with yet another crime. Accusations of corrupt law enforcement, perhaps planted evidence remain unanswered. This series won 4 Emmys.
Delving more into the mental and psychological processes not portrayed in Spotlight while maintaining all of its fervency and losing none of the systematic inquiry of Making of a Murderer, The Keepers will keep you riveted. This 7 episode docudrama begins with the coming forth of a Jane Doe whose long ago suppressed memories have bubbled to the surface. She maintained that while attending Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore, Maryland she was sexually abused repeatedly by Father Joseph Maksell. Father Maksell was the principal and also functioned as a counselor. This startling revelation sparked the interest of two geriatric “Nancy Drews”, a retired nurse and a teacher, who had also attended the same high school. The pivotal incident being researched revolves around the murder of Cathy Cesnik, a young, beautiful and much beloved nun who taught English and drama. So well liked was she that students felt comfortable confiding in her. Was her death perpetrated by the fact that she was about to expose Maksell? This we will never know but the evidence certainly seems to point in that direction.
The director, Ryan White, has an aunt who attended Archbishop Keough thereby lending him a personal slant. In the 60’s when this took place, priests were revered, mystical figures almost like demi-gods. Maksell had friends and relatives in the police department. He was the police chaplain. It is amazing that he was not indicted if only half of the things attributed to him were true. These supposed blessed men spreading the good word while continuing their heinous behavior, what kind of reconciliation do they manipulate in their minds? Check out The Keepers and try to figure out that conundrum.