Exotica

Still of Mia Kirshner in Exotica

Plot

The 'Exotica' is a nightclub on the outskirts of Toronto, where Eric, DJ and MC, watches nightly as his ex-girlfriend Christina performs…

Release Year: 1994

Rating: 7.2/10 (9,261 voted)

Director:
Atom Egoyan

Stars: Bruce Greenwood, Elias Koteas, Don McKellar

Storyline
The 'Exotica' is a nightclub on the outskirts of Toronto, where Eric, DJ and MC, watches nightly as his ex-girlfriend Christina performs. Watches jealously, especially as far as the extra attentions regular customer Francis garners are concerned. Thomas, meanwhile and erstwhile, goes through a series of, um, interesting situations involving his pet shop, a gruff taxi-sharing stranger, unexpected tickets to the opera and smuggled eggs of a rare bird. Multiple story lines unfold in a splendid tangle of cutbacks, forward and backward references and recurring themes, all woven around the Exotica, its customers and employees. A calm roller-coaster ride of a movie, visually and intriguingly and emotionally moving. O, and the sound track is notable, too.

Cast:

David Hemblen

Customs inspector


Mia Kirshner

Christina


Calvin Green

Customs officer


Elias Koteas

Eric


Bruce Greenwood

Francis Brown


Peter Krantz

Man in taxi


Don McKellar

Thomas Pinto


Arsinée Khanjian

Zoe


Sarah Polley

Tracey Brown


Victor Garber

Harold Brown


Damon D'Oliveira

Man at opera


Jack Blum

Scalper


Billy Merasty

Man at opera


Ken McDougall

Doorman

Taglines:
In a world of temptation, obsession is the deadliest desire.

Release Date: 3 March 1995

Filming Locations: Toronto, Ontario, Canada



Box Office Details

Budget: $CAD2,000,000

(estimated)

Gross: $4,183,379
(USA)



Technical Specs

Runtime:



Did You Know?

Trivia:

Elias Koteas's first scene has him speaking into a microphone to the clients in the Exotica club. Koteas' first scene in
Crash has him talking into a microphone to an equally selective audience (although the circumstances are different).

Quotes:

Zoe:
What is this thing about Eric calling you "a sassy piece of jailbait"?

Christina:
What's this thing?

Zoe:
It bothers me.

Christina:
Why?

Zoe:
It makes you out like a child or something.

Christina:
Unlike the tartan skirt and my socks or the blouse or the way I act, right?



User Review

The Taboo of Human Contact

Rating:

'Exotica' is clearly Egoyan's best film and his most successful
presentation of the motifs that have characterized his films throughout
his
career; these include the presentation of the narrative out of
chronological
order, the interaction of characters by means of videotape and hidden
surveillance, the relationship between parent and child, and the
repetition
of situation and dialogue. The film's theme involves the superficial
barriers-both physical and psychological-that prevent people from making
a
genuine emotional connection with others; as we watch the film we witness
how various people react to these barriers and struggle to break them
down.
The film's strong emphasis on structure and focus on Thomas' and Francis'
parallel 'hunts' for human contact can't help but remind of that
masterpiece
of medieval literature 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' (this is a work
that Egoyan was born to adapt to the screen).
In my opinion each of the film's six major characters parallels another
to
compile three pairs. The first pair of characters is composed of Thomas
and
Zoe. The most obvious similarity between these two is that each owns one
of
the film's two principle locations. Thomas' pet store and Zoë's
strip-club
are comparable in that both are businesses whose principle merchandise is
living creatures that are excessively displayed so as to persuade the
customer to make a purchase. Moreover, while the pet store is lined with
glass cages and fish-tanks, the walls of the strip-club are composed of
two-way mirrors through which employees can secretly observe the
customers.
In addition to the life that each openly sells, both also possess hidden
life. We see this in Zoë by the fact that she is very pregnant, but must
disguise her appearance so as not to remind customers of the possible
consequences of the lecherous behavior that her club encourages.
Likewise,
in the film's first scenes we see that Thomas is pregnant in a different
way. Here, he is smuggling exotic bird eggs into the country by
strapping
the eggs to his stomach in order to hide them from Canadian customs
officials. This hidden life also extends to their introverted
personalities. To combat their inability to communicate verbally, both
try
to make interpersonal connections by means of physical contact. In a
sense,
then, Thomas and Zoë (as the Greek origin of her name might suggest) are
givers of life both openly in their businesses and privately in their
interaction with others.
Next, Francis and Eric are parallel characters because of their mutual
obsessions with Christina. Although Christina is intended to be seen as
a
sex object, neither Francis nor Eric has any interest in her in this
regard.
Instead, she symbolizes an emotional relationship that both once had,
but
now have lost. When they eventually discover their real relationship,
Francis and Eric find that they do not need Christina and make an
emotional
bond with each other, which is symbolized by a physical
embrace.
Lastly, Christina and Tracey can be associated because Francis
considers
both as symbols of his dead daughter. However, Francis' relationships
with
Christina and Tracey both fail because he is unable to develop bonds that
go
beyond their assigned roles as a stripper and babysitter. Therefore,
while
Zoë and Thomas can be seen as givers of life, Christina and Tracey
clearly
receive life by taking on the roles that Francis and Eric impose on
them.
There are also many reoccuring images and symbols that reinforce the
emotional isolation of the characters. The use of secret surveillance by
two-way mirrors serves both as an invisible yet uncrossable boundary
between
people who would otherwise be very close to one another and as a way for
the
characters to make private judgments of those who are being unwittingly
observed. In fact, while Eric secretly observes and judges Francis
during
his nights at Exotica, Francis, because of this job as an auditor, does
the
same to Thomas during the day. Egoyan reminds us that this relationship
can
ultimately be extended to include the audience members, who also make
private judgments of the film's characters (we've this before in films
like
Hitchcock's 'Rear Window' and Powell's 'Peeping Tom'). As we watch the
film, we too are in a sense reaching out to forge an emotional connection
that transcends the barrier of the medium itself. The film's overriding
presence of money suggests to the characters that the only legitimate
grounds for a relationship is financial, and any time an emotional
connection is made the characters feel guilty if they are not paying for
it.
Finally, the frequent appearance of parrots and their uncharacteristic
silence reflects the characters' inability to communicate and overcome
the
losses of their past. I've really grown to admire this film and Egoyan's
work in general. In 'Exotica' he creates a work of complex symmetry and
interconnecting symbols while also conveying an atmosphere of lyrical
intensity.