Atom Egoyan’s debut feature marked out the psychological landscape that he would pursue throughout his career - namely the dark undercurrents coursing beneath society’s veneer of calm and order, particularly in regards to sex and family. Van, an adolescent who lives with his remote father and dominated stepmother, is concerned for his grandmother who languishes in a shoddy elderly home. Despite Van’s protestations, his father neither visits nor cares causing Van to take action with the assistance of a woman, Aline, who visits her ailing mother in the next bed. As Van and Aline’s relationship develops, Van moves away from the incestuous bond he shares with his step-mother, as well as uncovering the secrets of his absent mother and domineering father. By framing characters in extreme close-up with continuous cross-cutting, mimicking the bland style of an ordinary day-time soap opera, Egoyan maintains a claustrophobic tension, an unsettling effect exacerbated by the devastating lies that lurk beneath such apparent ordinariness. Using a collection of video images, television, pornography, home movies, and surveillance the film observes the breakdown and restoration of a dislocated family. Cast includes: David Hemblen, Aidan Tierney, Gabrielle Rose, Arsinee Khanjian, Selma Keklikian, Rose Sarkisyan.
Ontario Arts Council
Ontario Film Development Corporation
Ego Film Arts