Exotica anatomizes the obsessive rituals of a "look-but-don't-touch" sexualized environment. Atom EGOYAN sets the alienation of the characters against the lush eroticism of the sex club setting. An undertone of pedophilia, abduction, incest and murder informs the film without being dramatized beyond the search for a dead schoolgirl's body, so that the spectator is left to imagine the unimaginable. The sex club setting allows Egoyan to investigate structures of voyeurism in ways that sidestep exploitation and sensationalism. A complex, push-pull effect on the viewer is created by maintaining a distanced point of view even while depicting scenes of seduction. The film balances a careful observation of character with a sympathetic understanding of their plight. The visual preoccupation with surfaces does not preclude depth of emotional content. Egoyan's characters are neither villains nor angels; they embody and express deeply felt social tensions and conflicts.
Exotica won the Critics Prize in Cannes in 1994, confirming Egoyan's position as Canada's most widely acclaimed international director.
See also Canadian FEATURE FILM.
Author CATHERINE RUSSELL