EXOTICA (not to be confused with EROTIQUE which was released in
the US at about the same time) is a Canadian film. It starts with a
smuggler of exotic birds and then switches to a totally different cast
of characters--this time in a night club full of exotic dancers. The
only thing these people have in common is that are all major bizarre.
But don't tune out yet because the writer begins to weave a story of
The smuggler, Thomas (Don McKellar), acts like his mind is in
another planet. He manages to run into a series of characters each one
of which has the audience wondering if this character is important or
not and will he be the link to the exotic nightclub story.
In the exotic nightclub part of the picture we have Eric (Elias
Koteas), the barker/DJ, who has some strange attraction to Christina
(Mia Kirshner), the main dancer. Christina, on the other hand, has an
obsessive (mental?) relationship with Francis (Bruce Greenwood), a
middle aged customer who comes in every other night. Moreover, Francis
is paying a teenage girl Tracey (Sarah Polley) for something. He takes
her home to her Dad (Victor Garber--remember him in the Days and Nights
of Molly Dodd?) where they live above a liquor store in a bad area of
town. And all of that is just the plot set up. Whew!
This labyrinth gets more convoluted from there. Slowly and
eventually, most of it gets solved. The last scene manages to tie up
most of the major loose ends, but much remains an enigma when the
screen goes to black.
The director/writer (Atom Egoyan) manages to take a lot of risks
in his writing, but his directing was too cautious. I loved the
mystery, but at the same time found that I did not care about the
characters because he had them play their parts too surreal and aloof.
Too often it seemed he was more interested in the texture of the images
than in the people. The movie was basically sort of a Blue Velvet-lite
in feel but without its violence.
The cinematography by Paul Sarossy was great. The effect in the
nightclub was bright lights of intense blues and greens with the other
parts of the set in clear but less saturated colors. The pet store had
an eerie feel due to the camerawork.
The movie runs 1:41 which seemed about right. It is rated R for
varying degrees of female nudity in about 1/3 of the scenes. There was
no sex or violence. It is not an erotic show no matter what the local
was and not matter how many women were in various states of undress. I
agree with the rating that the show is for adults. I give it mild
thumbs down as I wanted better acting and better directing, and I award
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes