By Еvan Osentоn
In the spirit of such warm and fuzzy movies like In the Company of Men and Fireworks, comes Atom Egoyan’s latest masturbatory indulgence, Felicia’s Journey.
Egoyan’s previous work, including The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica, were recognized by the prestigious (and elitist) Cannes Film Festival. Rest assured that Felicia’s Journey has not and will not receive the same recognition.
In what can only be described as an awkward and annoying movie, Egoyan delves into the themes of identity and transition, producing a film with all the depth of a baking tray. Character development is sporadic and clichéd and the story is absurd to the point of being bothersome.
Essentially Felicia (Elaine Cassidy), is a naive pregnant Irish girl who journeys to England to seek out the father of her child, who told her he works at a lawnmower factory. On arrival, she befriends the suspected factory’s five-star gourmet chef Joseph Hilditch (the breathy Bob Hoskins), who helps her uncover her boyfriend’s deceit–he’s actually joined the English army and wants nothing to do with her again.
Meanwhile, Hilditch is actually a serial killer who plans to fillet Felicia, but here’s the highly plausible catch: he can’t do it until she’s had an abortion. The shallow Felicia (possibly the least developed character in the history of cinema) consents to the perfect stranger’s suggestion of abortion, discarding in a second her radically Catholic upbringing.
There’s more to the story, including bizarre flashbacks to Hilditch’s youth as his flamboyant mother’s unwilling cooking show assistant and stirring snippets of Irish countryside filled with Felicia’s dad calling her a traitor, a whore, etc.
Egoyan touches on several themes, such as the English/Irish political situation, religion, redemption, and the value of wisdom, barely scratches the surface. That’s hardly the point–Felicia’s Journey is not a movie aimed at audience enjoyment, or even settling for mere coherence. This seems to be a feel-bad movie made for the sake of bewilderment–a director’s flick aimed at cleaning house at award time.
Of course, that won’t stop this film from becoming revered by the more "stylish" of movie-goers the same way Egoyan’s last few have been. Egoyan is a young, avant-garde and controversial Þlm-maker and to reject his work is to say you are traditionalist; a ghastly word synonymous with boredom, conservatism and a lack of imagination. To say you’re a fan of Egoyan elicits "oohs" and "ahhs" from shallow friends; rumours will spread of your subversive nature and rare grasp of the surreal.
For the sake of your popularity, go to this movie and remember the poignancy of every touching scene for your next fancy social gathering. For the sake of your sanity, study for all your finals instead.