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Matalon, R. Berman, E. (2000). Egoyan's Exotica: Where does The Real Horror Reside?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(5):1015-1019.
  

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(5):1015-1019

Egoyan's Exotica: Where does The Real Horror Reside?

Review by:
Ronit Matalon

Emanuel Berman

Director: Atom Egoyan

Distributor: Buena Vista Home Video

To me, the highest aim of any film is to enter so completely into the subconscious of the viewer that there are moments and scenes and gestures which can be generated by the spectator's imagination. That becomes part of the film they're playing in their mind, and I hope the film has enough space to allow that type of room, that type of exchange (Egoyan, 1995, p. 50).

‘What have we really seen?’

This question unites Exotica's protagonists and Exotica's viewers, who are at first mystified by the discontinuity and gaps between scenes. Visibility, and the impact of the visual image, are central themes of this film. Voyeurism, Egoyan implies, is not only a humiliating position of someone who cannot achieve more, cannot have ‘the real thing’: it also forms a relationship, and allows a unique position of power. By watching attentively one can influence the story, transform its sequence.

Is that why Francis's wife attempts to cover his camcorder lens with her hand, when he videotapes her and their daughter?

The film opens at the airport, where customs inspectors watch the passengers through a one-way mirror; their gaze could determine a passenger's fate. We soon move to the ‘Exotica’ nightclub, where men watch the strippers, at times through a one-way mirror too. Francis (Bruce Greenwood) repeatedly watches a young stripper, Christina (Mia Kirshner), but their interaction appears highly ceremonial, built on set rules and steady mantras, which form a story co-constructed by the two of them.

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