Tag Archives: Canada

Atom Egoyan: How we made ‘Exotica’ – 25th anniversary

Misleadingly marketed as an erotic thriller by Miramax, Exotica proved a notable box-office success for a Canadian film when it was released a quarter of a century ago. It was a commercial breakthrough for its Cairo-born writer-director Atom Egoyan, following well-regarded arthouse titles such as Speaking Parts (1989) and The Adjuster (1991). Nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes and recipient of eight Genie awards (Canada’s equivalent of the Oscars), Egoyan’s film remains one of Canadian cinema’s most enduring and influential titles, and – along with The Sweet Hereafter (1997) – the director’s most highly regarded feature.

Set primarily around the fictional Exotica strip club in Toronto, the non-linear narrative – in which Egoyan withholds many of the specifics of characters’ relationships until the very end – concerns the intertwining lives of Francis (Bruce Greenwood), a tax auditor; Christina (Mia Kirshner), a young dancer; Eric (Elias Koteas), the club’s DJ; Thomas (Don McKellar), a pet shop owner; and Zoe (Arsinée Khanjian), the club’s pregnant owner.

Exotica is largely about loss, mourning and the effects they have on human connections; how people’s attempts to cope with extreme, often concealed grief manifest in outwardly disturbing personal rituals. The final scenes are among the most emotionally cathartic of 1990s cinema, drastically reconfiguring your understanding of previous events, while also opening up many unsettling questions. Far from a shallow puzzle narrative, the film’s power only grows with repeat viewings.

With 2019 marking the film’s 25th anniversary, I spoke to Atom Egoyan about Exotica’s production and legacy while he was at this year’s BFI London Film Festival to give a career talk and support his new film, Guest of Honour. Our conversation spoils one narrative reveal from Exotica’s finale…

Full interview for the BFI

Philippe Lesage on his heartfelt coming of age film ‘Genesis’

Forget Xavier Dolan; writer-director Philippe Lesage may be the most exciting filmmaker to emerge from Quebec in the last few years. But unlike the director of Mommy and Heartbeats, Lesage has had some struggle getting his films wider distribution, at least in English-language territories.

Reportedly drawn from autobiographical experience, The Demons, his acclaimed narrative debut after a string of documentaries, earned strong notices – including at Glasgow Film Festival 2017 – and favourable comparisons to the thriller stylings of Claude Chabrol and Michael Haneke. In it, a young boy in Montreal begins experiencing the adult world, as he enters adolescence against a backdrop of local child kidnappings.

For his latest feature, Genesis, Lesage strays into autobiographical territory once more for a tale of teenagers in love. In fact, Genesis loops us back in with the filmmaker’s alter ego Félix (Édouard Tremblay-Grenier), the lead of The Demons, at an older age. This is not a literal sequel, though, which is perhaps wise considering the erratic distribution of Lesage’s films mentioned earlier. Think François Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel series, where seeing every entry isn’t required, but if you do seek them all out you’ll get a little something extra out of the experience…

Full interview for The Skinny

Still/Born (Brandon Christensen, 2017)

The subgenre of maternal horror gets a solid new entry from Canada in the form of Still/Born, the confident feature debut of director Brandon Christensen. There’s not a lot of innovation on display in its story (a dash of Rosemary’s Baby here, a pinch of The Babadook there), but there’s enough merit in the filmmaking itself to warrant a look…

Full review for VODzilla.co