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Back in my younger days, before the Big Empire offered me a place, I thought I'd have more success as a writer if my name were something more unusual, more exotic. I submitted articles under names like Thermidor Humbolt Jopson, Balthazar David, and simply Skull. Whether these attempts failed because my disguises were transparent to all would-be publishers, or because my writing had suffered as my creative energy had been siphoned into inventing pseudonyms, I cannot say.
But when a great big question mark appeared over my head at seeing this film, Exotica, attributed to one "Atom Egoyan," I couldn't help but picture the scared and volatile artist I once was, striving to stylize his way to artistic recognition.
Exotica calls itself Noir. It calls itself exotic. The box text lays claims to an impressive load of plot twists. It positions itself to be decidedly dark. And it tries. How it tries!
In an nutshell, the story is about a depressed man whose wife and child were both killed. Instead of seeking a counselor, he goes to a strip club called Exotica for private dance therapy. His favorite dancer is the objet du crush of the sleazy nite club announcer, who makes things tough for our downtrodden antihero. An exotic bird smuggler, who is gay, exists in the script to become Mr. Antihero's unwilling accomplice in vengeance.
That's it in a nutshell, but the plot twists and turns like the contours of the walnut's hard case, the results of all this contortion amounting to about as much as will fit therein.
This video has some aspects of film noir: dark settings, no real hero, sleaziness, drugs. Being in color takes lessens the effect. Flashbacks (this scriptwriter's best narrative device) to a flower-speckled field create an unexpected variance to noir (literally, dark). The sense of doom that pervades good noir flicks is turned into something completely different as the film ends not on a gunshot, but on a hug. If you want film noir, try Double Indemnity (1944) or Blood Simple (1984). Try Orson Welles, The Cohen Brothers, or Humphrey Bogart.
Exotica is trying hardest, perhaps, to be exotic. As such, the viewer gets a blend of every spice in the spice cabinet: gay sex, strippers, full frontal nudity, tropical birds, bondage, fetishism. It's like flavoring rice with demi-dashes of every savor from Allspice to Ylang Ylang. You get one big stew of exotica, yes you do. But you might prefer Short Cuts for full frontal nudity, Ace Ventura, Pet Detective for tropical birds, etc.
In the final call, this film will leave you with an unburdened
feeling. None of the situations or characters will disturb your
sleep or trouble your mind. Enjoy at normal speed or in fast
©1999 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights happily reserved.