DIRECTOR: ATOM EGOYAN
COUNTRY: CANADA 1995
CINEMATOGRAPHY: PAUL SAROSSY
MUSIC: MYCHAEL DAMRA
CAST: Bruce Greenwood, Mia Kirshner, Don McKellar, Sarah Polley, Victor Garber, David Hemblen, Peter Krantz, Arsinee Khanjian, Elias Koteas
SUPER FEATURES: Well photographed film.
Atom Egoyan, is a bit of an oddity. His earlier works, were generally centered on thoughts, and characters' thinking. The film basically
stopped so we could hear these characters think. While this was interesting, it usually made for a film that might drag on for a bit too long, and of course, would often end up in a rather unsatisfying style. One got the feeling that the story couldn't possibly have an ending (life DOES go on), and he always added one anyway, just so we would think that it all meant something.
EXOTICA, may be Atom's departure from the student style of film as his previous work pointed out, or to. Unlike his previous films, there is a sense that there is a budget here, and that he is finally dead set on making something that makes sense to anyone else, least of all himself. And unlike his other films, we can safely sit down and tell you that there is a story here that goes from a to z, where as the other films, it was a bit difficult to do so. They appeared to have a story, but did they really have one.?
A man has been hurt since the death of his wife and daughter in an accident some years before. And he spends some of his off time in a nightclub where the girls dance nude, and have moments where they can dance just for you for a small price. What we don't know is why is a man who has a good job, and is reasonably well paid, not gotten together with someone else, and "mellowed" out. The film avoids all reason, until the very end, when it kinda puts all bits and pieces in one basket, and lets us in on the rest of it.
But in between we face the tension and intrigue that one particular dancer provides. She looks very young, and in her act she dresses as a school girl. And she has an enjoyable time dancing for this one man, when he shows up. But there is a slight problem. The dancers are helped along their performances by a disk jockey who plays music and occasionally adds dialogue to get everyone interested in checking out the girls, for whatever reason. He is a bit of a live psychologist, doing something, which at first appears to be sexy and fun, but is turning rather sour after a little, or perhaps we have heard enough of him. But he does know how to use his voice very well, and the attraction often
brings about a catharsis for us as well. The DJ is also trapped in his own world, in many ways in the same way as the gentleman of the story. In its own way, this is also a rather nice touch, and it never implies that everyone is the same way. The DJ also happens to be in love with this special girl, and though their relationship has come to an end, he has had a hard time letting go of it.
When the film comes to the end portion we finally come to find out a little more, but unfortunately, by that time, the story has lost its flavor, and what might have happened, or was going to happen, does not, and the film ends in a rather oddball note, which is a bit of another Egoyan'ism. But, unlike other films, this one is better tied together, and holds well better. Still not totally satisfying, but quite a bit less frustrating than the other films.
But the film has some very good acting, and some rather interesting moments, which are actually very nice directing touches. In special is a moment when the thoughts waver from one person to another, and all of a sudden we are in the nightclub at the early morning hours where the disk jockey is philosophizing about his feelings. It is a nice touch. At least, none of the characters are totally dishonest which helps the film along.
Atom Egoyan may not be the best director around, but he is proving that he has a touch that may be developing into a style that is unusual, but is touching, and deep at the same time. At the pace he is displaying, chances are that his future work will be even better than before. His stories are showing a maturity that we do not always get to see in many directors. It does help when the director is, an auteur, as is called in France, meaning that he also has a hand in writing his own material. This is the lost art form of film, in America and in the world where
entertainment and money rule what the mass market must see.
It is this kind of work that gets many of us thinking and understanding ourselves better. but does anyone really care.?
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