|Egoyan plumbs the violence of the mind in ways that are unique and unnerving.|
|Peter Travers, film critic Source|
Photo © Johnnie Eisen
Mia Kirshner in Exotica
In an conscious effort to get away from the overuse of technology in his films, Egoyan fashioned a story wherein a live performance, that of a stripper, became the focal point for private ritual. Heavily influenced by a relationship the director had early on in life, he wanted Exotica to reflect the isolation and confusion that can be present for individuals within shared sexual realtionships. The film was well received when screened in official competition at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the International Critics' Prize. A popular success in Canada, the film went on to win eight Genie Awards, including Best Picture. Distributed by Miramax Films in the United States, Exotica became Atom Egoyan's most successful and widely seen movie to date. In 1995, the screenplay for the movie was published in book form, featuring an essay and interview with Atom.
One of the featured performers at a strip club called "Exotica" is a young woman who's routine is done dressed in a schoolgirl's uniform. She performs private "table dances" nightly at the request of an unlikely looking customer, a tax auditor who's interest in her goes beyond the erotic. This activity is overseen by the establishment's pregnant owner, as well as dancer's jealous ex-lover, who serves as the club's emcee. The auditor has his niece babysit for him during his evening activities, even though his house is unoccupied, save for pictures of the man's presumably deceased wife and daughter. During the day, he investigates the financial records of a repressed gay pet shop owner. Having been unwittingly persuaded by the emcee to break the rules of behavior at the club, thereby putting an end to his nightly ritual, the auditor enlists the help of the pet shop owner to exact revenge. Through this act of deception, the truths of the various characters' motivations are revealed.
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