Felicia's Journey

(CA/UK/US - 1999)

by Mike Lorefice

Cast: Bob Hoskins, Elaine Cassidy, Arsinée Khanjian, Peter McDonald, Gerard McSorley, Brid Brennan
Genre: Drama
Director: Atom Egoyan
Screenplay: Atom Egoyan, based on the novel by William Trevor
Cinematography: Paul Sarossy
Composer: Mychael Danna
Runtime: 116 minutes

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Atom Egoyan's presentation really sets the mood for the film. The music by Egoyan regular Mychael Danna is particularly effective, and the look has a certain ominous feel even in the scenes where characters would normally be at peace with nature.

This movie was so riveting and engrossing because it kept building up by revealing more about the mysterious main characters. It goes about doing this in a manner that makes the film more interesting by opening up possibilities instead of closing them. As we get more of an idea of who these people are, the tension mounts because we can see the movie is leading to a major disaster, but we aren't sure what and when.

The flashbacks (Egoyan's favorite technique) and transitions between the two main characters are so effective. The flashbacks slowly reveal what caused the characters current traumatized state (their main similarity is it's one parent, but they don't know of this similarity), while the transitions emphasize comparisons between the two.

Bob Hoskins performance is really the key because he has most of the lines. He does an exceptional job, the best of his career, changing a little bit with each revelation about his character. By the end of the story, he's nothing like the guy that you thought he was at the very beginning, but the changes are totally credible. Although I mentioned he has most of the lines, the most impressive thing about his performance is the believability of the emotions he's portraying throughout this dialogue because his character is one that generally doesn't say what he's really thinking and feeling. On some occasions, his intense feeling is really obvious. In a lot of others though, it's buried beneath the skin as the point is the topic of conversation or the other persons actions have caused something to stew inside of him but his character is trying his best not to boil over.

Elaine Cassidy is highly impressive because she's able to convey the all the emotions without many lines, especially since all her lines are purposely delivered with the same unassuming nature and low key tone. As is one of the trademarks of characters in Egoyan's movies, she also has a dualism in her actions and words where we kind of believe more toward the opposite is actually true. We aren't really sure, but we can see that something is beneath the surface. It's hidden just enough so that the person she's with doesn't see it. Depth, subtlety, and what lies beneath are definitely the strengths of this movie and Egoyan's cinema in general.

The movie really stands out because you could see how easily it would have been another boring and predictable thriller had it been made in Hollywood. Hoskins would have been much more narrowly defined so he could be a clear-cut villain. The narrative would have been dumbed down and told in a more conventional style. The director would feel he had to insert some happy or comical moments that would only water down the intensity and weaken the portrayals of these characters. The temptation to totally leave the psychological level and have Hoskins chase Cassidy around his house with a sharp object at the end would have been too great. Luckily, it wasn't made in the land of the rehash, so it was a somewhat challenging movie that stayed true to its roots from start to finish.

Aside from leaving Canada, I don't see why people think this is so different from Egoyan's other famous films, Exotica & The Sweet Hereafter. The core ideas, style, and presentation are all here. Like those other two, this is an excellent film that's one of the years 10 best.





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