Atom Egoyan’s cryptic Exotica revolves largely around a strip club, which lends the film its name, a faux-tropical hothouse where young female dancers cater to their customers’ sexual and psychological needs.
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I'm glad I watched it a second time. In between viewings I watched 'The Sweet Hereafter', which gave me more insight into his theme of healing. This is the darker version of that idea. Another thing that struck me was how kind and gentle some of the interactions were. Not used to seeing that. I think it's due to being made in Canada. They really are nicer people.
Atom Egoyan's fascination with the dark parts of lonely people is centered in the location of Exotica. Where sexuality becomes canvas for human longing and lostness. An interesting character study with his particular blend of style. I think I assumed this would have more of a drive to it and so I had to reasses when confronted with the slow search for meaning and comfort in tragedy.
One word is enough to describe "Exotica" with total precision: hypnotic. This seems to be an obvious description, as the whole film is bound to provoke that same feeling, but I have to admit Egoyan's complete success. The dark, dense atomsphere he creates around this strip club and its mysterious frequenters is one of the most immersive ambiances of modern cinema.
People in torment, orbiting one another, linked only by memories and by the cold hard cash which they insist upon paying. Commerce as connection and the inevitable, inescapable sense that their days are slipping away, counting down. Each person has their own baggage and the best we can do is skim along the same path for a little while.
Just saw this and I could easily see it sneaking up on my list of all-time favorites after a second viewing, One of the best-structured films I've ever seen, completely accessible yet concealing unknown depths of mystery. The motif of touching vs watching perfectly mirrors the emotional arc of the film. If I have one complaint, it's that the Elias Koteas character is a bit underwritten. An amazing achievement.
It appears, at first, as a sleazy, shallow product. But as the film nears its conclusion (however ambiguous it may be), it reveals a lot of subtlety and nuance. The intentions and desires of the characters are so well shielded from the audience in the beginning. The final shot is sublime.