|With the recurring presence of irrational and bizarre moments, The Adjuster, more than any other Egoyan film, achieves a surreal force.|
|Peter Harcourt, film critic Source|
Photo © Johnnie Eisen
Elias Koteas in The Adjuster
On New Year's Eve in 1989, a fire destroyed the home of Atom Egoyan's parents, in Victoria, British Columbia. Having traveled there to assist his parents during the aftermath, Atom met with the insurance adjuster handling his parents' claim. Egoyan was struck by the degree of control someone in this position could have over people's lives, especially during a time of such vulnerability. The experience inspired a screenplay concerning an adjuster who, despite having very little influence over his own life, serves as as an inspirational figure to those requiring his services. The production was first screened during the Director's Fortnight program at the Cannes film festival. The Adjuster earned Atom Egoyan the award for best Canadian feature at the Toronto Festival of Festivals, which included a $25,000 prize. The money hardly became a financial windfall for Atom, as he repeated the generous tribute given him by Wim Wenders four years earlier in Montreal. Egoyan, so moved by The Grocer's Wife, another film in competition, donated the entire prize to its first-time director, John Pozer. Meanwhile, The Adjuster attracted the attention of Orion Classics, which purchased the film and distributed it throughout the United States.
An insurance adjuster dedicates himself to the needs of his clients, for which they are genuinely grateful. He spouts standard reassurances to them as he visits them at the motel which serves as their temporary home. He even provides added comfort to several clients by sleeping with them, when he isn't determining the value of their lost possessions. The adjuster's wife is also involved in standarization and assessment in her work, as a censor of pornographic films. The couple live with the wife's son and immigrant sister in a former model home, the lone inhabited house in a terminated housing development. Their lives intersect with a rich couple, who spend their time staging a series of elaborate sexual fantasies, one of which involves posing as a film crew. Convinced by their scam, the adjuster vacates his home for use as their "set", and moves with his family into the motel which houses his displaced clients. This brings about events which expose the pretense underlying his existence.
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