Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Canada/France, 2002. Alliance Atlantis Communications, Serendipity Point Films, Ego Film Arts, ARP Sélection, Telefilm Canada, The Movie Network, Super Ecran, The Harold Greenberg Fund. Screenplay by Atom Egoyan. Cinematography by Paul Sarossy. Produced by Atom Egoyan, Robert Lantos. Music by Mychael Danna. Production Design by Phillip Barker. Costume Design by Beth Pasternak. Film Editing by Susan Shipton. Toronto International Film Festival 2002.
A standout accomplishment by Atom Egoyan, here looking to his Armenian roots for a powerful story about history, healing and hope. A book about a survivor of the Armenian genocide of 1915 has caught the eye of a filmmaker (Charles Aznavour) and screenwriter (Eric Bogosian) working on a film about the controversial tragedy. They hire the book’s writer (Arsinée Khanjian, who is marvelous) to act as consultant on the film and contribute to the realism of their project. Khanjian’s son, David Alpay, is dealing with his personal family’s involvement with the political aftermath between Turkey and its denial of the Armenian holocaust, unfolding his personal story to a customs officer (Christopher Plummer) while waiting to be admitted back into Canada. The multiple subplots that magically connect, a staple of Egoyan’s films, are sometimes too extraneous to the plot, but the whole thing plays so smoothly and with such beautiful rhythm and palpable emotion that there’s no need for serious criticism of its excesses. Egoyan’s choice to make a film with various forms of art instead of just a straightforward historical epic pays off with information and dramatic layers.