Exotica (1994): Atom Egoyan’s Tale of Sexual Desire

Atom Egoyan’s “Exotica” was his first film to be invited into competition at the 1994 Cannes Film Fest, where it won the FIPRESCI Award given by the international federation of critics.

Dealing with the nature and limits of sexual desire, the film takes place within a strip joint, where a host of intriguing characters, all of which are outsiders in one way or another, crisscross paths.

The protag is Francis (Bruce Greenwood), a middle-aged man crippled by tragedy, in which his young daughter was killed. His grief and mourning are transformed into disturbing psychological relationships with a young babysitter (Sarah Polley) and a stripper (Mia Kirshner), who performs at the club.

Exotica is also the name of the film’s lap-dancing club, which is managed by Elia Koteas and owned by Zoe (Arsinee Khanijan, Egoyan’s wife), who sets strict rules as to what the customers can and can not do in her joint.

Like most of Egoyan’s films, “Exotica” deals with the impact of modern technology on our everyday lives, including our notions of interpersonal communication, privacy, and way that we approach and divide space, both physical and symbolic.

Sensitively directed, and well-acted by the entire ensemble, “Exotica” is intriguing, provocative, and disturbing in its treatment of such taboo issues as voyeurism and sexual desire.

Francis (Bruce Greenwood)
Christina (Mia Kirshner)
Thomas (Don McKellar)
Zoe (Arsinee Khanijan)
Tracey (Sarah Polley)
Harold (Victor Garber)
Customs Officer (Calvin Green)
Customs Inspector (David Hemblen)
Man in taxi (Peter Krantz)