This film very skilfully induces a sense of claustophobia, of suspicion and unease. A posh, slightly sinister club: Leonard Cohen's 'Everybody Knows' kicks in as a young woman dressed as a schoolgirl begins her striptease, watched by a disturbingly intense MC, Elias Koteas, and a disturbingly intense accountant, Bruce Greenwood. A heady, worrying atmosphere of lust and obsession, of perverse beauty and terrible need. And from this unlikely cauldron comes a tale of simple redemption, compassion and something of the magical, almost religious resolution of Kieslowski's 3 Colours Trilogy, of Shakespeare's last plays. Highly highly recommended. Mia Kirshner very pretty, too.
Exotica seemed fully to live up to its name on the big screen 20 years ago, and seeing it now takes you back to that initial hypnotic experience. It is a brilliant collage, like a jigsaw whose pieces don't seem to be from the same picture at all, then they fit together, and miraculously a single image coalesces, against impossible odds. The characterisation is very good, the script always hovering between strangeness and humour, the soundtrack seductive with quite a rhythmic thwack that seems to find new energy in the dying embers of funk. It is also visually superb; not just in terms of the nubile beauty of Mia Kirshner and the scantily-clad girls in the strip club, but more subtly in the use of green (emerald toilet cubicles!), parrots and striking faces which form a very effective combination. (Elias Koteas is particularly memorable for his singular features, both tender and rock star-like, and the suave delivery of his borderline-acceptable MC's patter.) It's probably partly the way Egoyan films them, and there's something intensely cinematic about the whole thing. Its conclusion pulls off a remarkable coup, not just in terms of cohesion but also in finding a surprisingly humanist note in the midst of such outre style that often led to thinness of substance in lesser hands in that decade.
An unnerving yet strangely satisfying film. The story revolves around a man, his fascination with a strip club and one stripper in particular. Throw in a pet smuggler, a crazily intense M.C at the strip club and copious flash backs to a child murder years before and the cocktail is one heady brew. In particular the soundtrack by Mychael Danna is deserving of a mention - mixing minimalist piano with middle eastern instruments and vocals means the soundtrack will linger in your head for weeks. Leonard Cohen growls 'Everybody Knows' to one of the most clinical, measured strips of all time, and yet the whole moment becomes strangely beautiful and tastefully erotic. Oh heck, this film just doesn't make sense on the page - buy it and check out a complete one off that will stay with you forever.
Made in Canada in 1994 this is from film maker Atom Egoyan. It centres around a `gentleman's club' just outside Toronto where men come to watch ladies dance in various states of undress and for five dollars they can get a personal dance ; how inflation has pushed that price up. The DJ and MC is Eric who plays sexy - ish music and introduces the ladies discussing their lures like a frustrated voyeur. One being his ex for whom he still carries a torch and a ton of jealousy.
We also have a tax inspector called Francis who attends the club nigh on all the time to be with one particular dancer. He has an unsettled past and involves one of his clients who runs a pet shop and has a thing for the opera.
The first thing you notice about this film is how it looks and sounds, it seems just so fresh and vital The camera seems to love everything put in front of it. The acting is stilted on purpose and everything seems obscured from full revelation almost from the start. And the reason for that is this is a mystery or a series of them and they are al interconnected if even by a thread so fine it must be made of gossamer.
This is a film that exudes sex, but has none and drips with style in the most unstylish of scenes, an absolute joy to watch and one I am amazed I had not seen until now - an absolute must see for all serious cinema fans.
It is hard to review this film without giving too much away. Exotica is, in my opinion, Egoyan's finest work to date. The film is slow, carefully considered and full of mystery. Although the mystery that concerns the characters primarily, is the murder of a young girl, the main area of intrigue for the viewer is simply: who are these characters and how is ensemble cast connected? The film is executed with such subtlety, that you find yourself slowly being drawn into the mystery on a very powerful emotional level. The reviews of Egoyan's films as being emotionally cold and detatched have never made sense to me, as I have always felt as if I was being drawn into a very emotional landscape.
Beautiful, funny (in parts), moving and simultaneously unsettling, Exotica is one of the most unique and provocative film experiences I have ever had. I simply cannot reccommend it enough.
Atom Egoyan's Exotica is an outstanding movie. I have seen Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter (1997) which is also very good. A father's (obsessive) love for his daughter(s) is featured in both movies, consequently the theme must mean something special to Egoyan. He is a most talented and original movie maker, a Canadian as are his players, Bruce Greenwood, (Francis Brown, the accountant whose daughter was murdered), Sarah Polley, (Tracey, the high school girl), and Mia Kirshner, (Christina, the exotic dancer). His wife, Arsinee Khanjian and Polley were also featured in The Sweet Hereafter.
What really makes the movie is Egoyan's use of time and action sequence. He cuts up the chronological order of events and then presents them in a dramatic way. This is not so easy to do. Christopher Nolan in Memento (2000) used the same technique to great advantage. I have come late to such a technique and would love to master it myself. I worked on it last year and a couple of years before. You can't just scissor it and then paste it back together. Something must be gained from reversing the order of events. When Eric and Christina are shown walking the fields in a long line of people I jumped to the conclusion that Tracey would be found dead. We don't learn that Francis lost his daughter until the film is nearly finished.
The psychology of Francis and the young girls is interesting. Christina says she gave something to him and he gave something to her. This vagueness with its unmistakable sexuality is something that always exists between young girls and older men. And, as Egoyan observes, there are rules and awkwardness, and confused emotions. However the girl wants it made unmistakably clear that she is desired physically and just talk is almost never sufficient. She often doesn't know whether she really wants to be "taken" fully, and of course that is usually, shall we say, problematic. Some great subtly is required in handled such a theme, and Egoyan realizes that. His character Francis Brown is content with fantasy and does not touch at all.
This film would have found a larger audience except for the title, the theme, and the milieu. The female audience for the most part didn't even consider watching the movie since, as one woman said, I thought it was just another movie with an older man lusting after a girl half his age. That theme bores women to death. But surprisingly at the IMDb a viewer asks how women feel about the film and several write in to say that they liked it. Another poster remarks that women over forty actually liked Exotica in higher percentages than males.
I thought the veracious and business-like depiction of the exotic dancer club was well done. The very nice side plot with the gay animal importer was just a perfect fit for the main plot. Egoyan wrote the script. It is a great script. So much surprises. It's almost too good. For me, since I have seen so many, many movies, something different, some surprises in plot, in character, in treatment are always welcome.
And the plot does surprise. Even when the protagonist, Francis waits outside the club to shoot Eric, Egoyan turns the situation on its head by having Eric appear from the side and explain something that changes Francis's attitude toward him.
I am being vague because I don't want to spoil the story. Some movies--most movies I would say, since I go back to the generation that would go into the theatre and sit down during the middle of the movie; and then four or five hours later, realize, "This is where I came in"--in most movies to know the ending or the plot would not spoil the movie. We know so and so dies at the end. What is interesting is how he dies, how the actions develops. But in this movie to know the plot would take something away.
I think. I'm not sure. Anyway Francis is a tax auditor who lost his daughter when she was less than eight years old. She was murdered. The police initially thought he did it, but he was found innocent and the murderer was apprehended and convicted. But Francis is left hollow and tries to bring her back in a way by having teenage girls "babysit" his nonexistent daughter. Egoyan teases us near the beginning by showing Francis and Tracey in his car as he drops her off at her home giving her some money and asking, "Are you free Thursday?" Very near the end of the movie we find that Tracey had a precursor in that babysitting role. You might be able to guess who it was.
The sound track features "Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen.
The film itself is quite complex with a great soundtrack but let down by a lacklustre transfer to bluray, if ever a film needs love, care and remastering, it's this wonderful film from Atom Egoyan. The Canadian bluray has the same transfer but the audio is a much improved English DTS-HD Master audio 2.0. £19.00 at time of writing.
A beautifully crafted piece of work. Increadibly engaging and very confusing until all the links have been established. Excellent acting ( Elias Koteas in particular) and a haunting, melodic soundtrack.