One of those everyone-is-connected dramas, but with birds. Most of the birds are either fake/decorative, or an offscreen plot device (smuggled hyacinth macaw eggs) but it’s still appreciated.
Egg-smuggler Don McKellar runs a pet shop that is being audited by tormented beardo Bruce Greenwood (Meek, of the Cutoff) who is obsessed with stripper Mia Kirshner who works at the titular nightclub with her ex Elias Koteas and boss ArsinÃ©e Khanjian. Victor Garber is in here, in a wheelchair, with daughter Sarah Polley, and they both spend uncomfortable time with the beardo, knowing that he’s erratic and messed up ever since his daughter’s murder. Koteas and Kirshner had just met when they discovered her body years earlier. And the pet shop boy is seduced by an egg-thieving customs agent and blackmailed by his auditor into spying on the strip club.
Elias one-way-mirroring Bruce:
Don is intimidated by Mia:
What is wrong with Egoyan that he makes such sad movies? The revenge trip turning into a sad reconciliation was a motherfucker – it’s hard to write good people who get fucked up by misfortune and still hold onto some goodness – but for me the knife in the heart is the final two seconds, after a movie full of birds a cat walks into frame.
Victor and real bird:
ArsinÃ©e and fake bird:
Katy and I disagreed over which was the bigger twist ending: the revelation of Sarah’s real father, or that half the family home-movie stock-footage was faked. I figured the way the movie was going, something bigger than her mother’s death, which we learn about early on, had to be coming – the stories have to be building to some family secret, so the fact of the affair was less surprising than the betrayal of the documentary form, as we briefly see Polley directing her own “mother” in the re-enactments.
I wanted people to constantly question what they were seeing and if it was real or if it wasnâ€™t, because that was my experience. My experience going through the story was â€œIs what Iâ€™m hearing fact? Is it nostalgia? Is it subjective? Is it objective?â€ So I wanted the audience to have a paralleled experience to that and thatâ€™s why we worked so hard to make the recreations as accurate as we possibly could.
Incidentally, Sarah’s mom was a casting director and acted in a late-80’s TV series, dad Michael has acted in Slings and Arrows, and biological dad Harry Gulkin was oscar nominated for a movie appropriately named Lies Me Father Told Me.
Cinema Scope’s A. Nayman admires it partly, but finds it all too carefully filled with self-regard.
Alzheimer’s movie by Sarah Polley, who bravely wrestled herself and Julie Christie away from Hal Hartley before he could cast either of them in another of his increasingly bad movies.
Surprisingly heartwarming movie, not the sad slog it might’ve been. Christie is the devoted wife with alzheimer’s, Gordon Pinsent (shipping news, tons of tv stuff) is the devoted husband, Michael Murphy (john sayles movies) is Julie’s fellow nursing home patient and Olympia Dukakis (mr. holland’s opus) is Murphy’s wife.
Movie jumps through time and space, visiting scenes out of order but with a sense of purpose, flashing back and slowly revealing, not just the usual “start with the ending for the helluvit” (see: pan’s labyrinth). Seems Gordon cheated on Julie years before, and as she’s forgetting her way home and forgetting where the dishes go in the kitchen, she can’t forget that. In the rest home she assumes a new identity as the wife of Michael Murphy, much to her real husband’s and Murphy’s real wife’s horror. It’s a clever balancing act: is Julie punishing Murphy for past transgressions or is she so far gone that she really doesn’t recognize him?
Just a gorgeous movie with excellent story, performances, close-ups, snowy cross-country skiing, and Julie Christie’s beautiful expressions. One of my faves so far this year.