2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Speaking Parts seems to be about acting and filming, and I should probably see it again; however first impressions do count and I didn't feel its collage effect and rather intellectual, playful tone quite worked on first viewing. By setting up a critique of video by means of the behind-the-scenes preparation for a film-shoot, linked to the staff and guests in a hotel, the director Atom Egoyan leaves the viewer feeling a bit stranded. It falls prey to the very alienation that seems to be its central theme, so that in the end you are left with a slight numbness. The music helps to offset this, but it doesn't work as well as Exotica, which made more imaginative use of location and probably used sexuality to better effect, drawing the viewer into a strange intensity. Something of the same absurdity can be heard in the dialogues, however, which are often quite amusing.
This is no doubt a reflection of personal taste, but I find art house films like this can fall into a certain coldness, where there is too much detachment and the images fail to engage the emotions. On the other hand, popular films are either too sentimental, or try to give questionable visceral thrills or assert banal messages, or possibly all three ... The band down the middle - or maybe right off to one side? - seems the right one, the only one that can really satisfy, but it is far narrower than the two broad bands. (For me, Louis Malle is an ideal example of intelligent filmmaking where the heart and the head are held in a perfect balance, that has met with reasonable commercial success, but I don't think Egoyan quite hits the mark.)