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Atom Egoyan (1960 - )

Lifespan: 1960 -

Related: Canada - director

Exotica (1994) - Atom Egoyan [Amazon.com]


Atom Egoyan, OC (born July 19, 1960) is a critically acclaimed Canadian filmmaker of Armenian descent. Egoyan is a member of the faculty at the European Graduate School. His work often explores themes of alienation and isolation, featuring characters whose interactions are mediated through technology, bureaucracy or other power structures. Stylistically, Egoyan's films often follow non-linear plot-structures, in which events are placed out of sequence in order to elicit specific emotional reactions from the audience by withholding key information.

Egoyan has directed a dozen full-length films, several television episodes, and a few shorter pieces. His early work was based on his own material, and he received some notice for the film Exotica (1994), but it was Egoyan's first attempt at adapted material that resulted in his best-known work, The Sweet Hereafter (1997), which landed him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. He also directed Sarabande featuring Khanjian and Lori Singer, a drama which flanks cellist Yo-Yo Ma's performance of Bach's Fourth Suite for Unaccompagnied Cello, as part of the latter's Inspired by Bach series for Sony Classical. The film Ararat (2002) also generated some publicity for Egoyan, as it was the first major motion picture to deal directly with the Armenian Genocide. Ararat later won the Best Picture prize at the Genie Awards (ironically, he failed to receive a Best Director nomination for the same film). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom_Egoyan [Sept 2006]

Exotica (1994) - Atom Egoyan

Exotica is a 1994 Canadian movie about a Toronto nightclub called 'Exotica'. It was written and directed by Atom Egoyan.

Note: The story of Exotica is not told in chronological order and important information is often withheld from the viewer until late in the film. The following synopsis thus does not reflect the viewer's actual experience of the events as they unfold.

Exotica presents a disparate group of characters whose lives are interconnected through the Exotica nightclub. Christina (Mia Kirshner) is an exotic dancer at Exotica, owned by Zoe (Arsinée Khanjian). Eric (Elias Koteas) is the club's DJ, and Christina's former boyfriend. Francis (Bruce Greenwood) is a customer who comes in nightly and always has Christina dance for him, which inspires Eric's jealousy.

In his professional life, Francis is an auditor, and Thomas (Don McKellar) is the gay pet store owner whose ledgers Francis is reviewing.

Francis is eventually banned from the club when Eric manipulates him into touching Christina during one of her dances (which is against the rules of the club). Around the same time, Francis discovers illegal activities in Thomas' financial records, and forces Thomas to get involved in his conflict with the nightclub - and we eventually learn that Francis' obsession with Christina has much more complex roots than it first appears. The film's final scene, set many years before the others, also drastically reconfigures our understanding of the characters, especially Christina.

The film deals with issues of loss, grief and isolation. An important recurring manifestation of this theme revolves around touch - almost every time a character in the film touches another one, he or she is punished or rebuked for it. Only Thomas, already an outsider because of his sexuality, avoids this fate. He has a strategy for making physical connections: he buys opera tickets, and then tries to sell them to another man before the performance - but instead of selling the tickets for money, he takes the man home for sex.

All of the characters harbour desires that they can never fulfill. Exotica is a dark, complex psychological study of people coping with loneliness and pain, and trying, with little success, to reach out.

An unlikely award
Judging by his own account, Egoyan was quite amused by one of the awards this film won: the Adult Video News award for Best Alternative Adult Film of 1996. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exotica_%28movie%29 [Mar 2005]

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