Customer Reviews


81 Reviews
5 star:
 (54)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:
 (9)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (7)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multi-layered, haunting piece of film mastery.
While Canadian writer-director Atom Egoyan may be best known for his sweeping, 1997 adaptation of Russel Banks' novel The Sweet Hereafter (for which he was nominated for a best directing Oscar), Exotica vastly surpasses Hereafter in its deeply layered secrets and complexity. "You have to convince yourself that this person has something hidden, that you have to find...
Published on March 31, 2001 by Joe Bowman

versus
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining
I think that if you dig deep enough in this film, there's nothing there. The story is contrived and goes out of its way to set you up. But the ride is a lot of fun, from the titilating setting to the engrossing soundtrack, you're fairly absorbed throughout the movie. You sit there forming opinions about what you're seeing, trying to figure out why the filmmaker has...
Published on April 22, 2000 by MamaOwl


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multi-layered, haunting piece of film mastery., March 31, 2001
By 
This review is from: Exotica (DVD)
While Canadian writer-director Atom Egoyan may be best known for his sweeping, 1997 adaptation of Russel Banks' novel The Sweet Hereafter (for which he was nominated for a best directing Oscar), Exotica vastly surpasses Hereafter in its deeply layered secrets and complexity. "You have to convince yourself that this person has something hidden, that you have to find yourself," states a character at the beginning of the film. Each of these characters--the DJ of Club Exotica (Elias Koteas), the pregnant owner of the club (Egoyan's wife Arsinee Khanjian), the mysterious, school girl dancer (Mia Kirshner), her most frequent customer (Bruce Greenwood), and the lonely owner of an exotic pet store (Don McKellar)--has something hidden, deep within the interactions between each other and the non-linear storytelling of Exotica, which multiple viewings enhance to even greater detail.
After winning many Genie Awards (the Canadian equivelant of the American Oscar) including best director and picture, as well as being hailed as a "Miramax Classic" on the box, one would think that the DVD would be filled with lots of added bonuses, and at the very least: a theatrical trailer. Alas, the Exotica DVD boasts no special features, if you don't count the gorgeous widescreen transfer, much to my own dismay.
Since many critics praised the film when it was released in 1994, especially Roger Ebert, there is hope that a new DVD will be created. The Criterion Collection includes numerous foreign, avant-garde, cultish films on DVD, most all of them boasting quite a few, excellent special features (especially the sadly-out-of-print Sid & Nancy DVD; but not for the feature-less Night Porter disc). One would hope, with the support of a few major critics and strong following, that Mirimax (or Criterion) would release a new version of this DVD, featuring all the added features, commentaries, bios that the film rightfully deserves.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Egoyan Winner, September 23, 2003
This review is from: Exotica (DVD)
I like movies that reveal their mysteries gradually. Films like Mullholland Drive, Memento, Following, etc. Like a good postmodern novel (no that's not an oxymoron - there are a few [Paul Auster comes immediately to mind]) these films are non-linear and one is kept guessing about not only what will happen, but whethere central characters are crazy, evil, benign, etc. The audience is kept intentionally in the dark, and thus on edge, and sometimes (as is the case with Mullholland Drive) there is no clear resolution, no tidying things up at the end. Egoyan seems to be operating in similar territory.
Another characterstic that these directors share is that often their characters are not what one would call likeable. This is the case in Exotica. A Canadian Customs Inspector (David Hemblen) is assigned to audit the books of a nervous Toronto exotic pet shop owner. From the outset, we see that this is not going to be your typical CPA/customer relationship. Things get more intriguing when the inspector finds a pistol in the pet-shop owner's drawer and reacts enigmatically.
As the film progresses, the inspector's psyche gradually disintegrates, until finally there is a denouement of denouements at the end of the film. Finally, Egoyan lets the audience in on the source of the inspector's descent into emotional breakdown. No spoilers here, but suffice it to say that the ending provides resolution, without relying on clichés.
Another satisfying Egoyan film. Thoughful script. Uniformly excellent acting, cinematography, direction. Worth re-viewing.
BEK
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Help For the Viewer?, May 30, 2005
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Exotica (DVD)
CAUTION-SPOILERS AHEAD-EXOTICA has been overwhelmingly praised by the critics. I think the Tomatometer is at 95% favorable. Here is my take on EXOTICA-maybe it will help some viewers to appreciate this fine film.

The film is very much a paradox, sensual but sterile, intense but distant, hollow but haunting. It is a complex story with a relatively simple theme. The characters include Francis (Bruce Greenwood) as a Canadian government revenue auditor who is auditing the financials of an exotic pet store (whose owner Thomas is played by Don McKeller) while trying to exorcise his demons at a strip club called EXOTICA. During his nocturnal visits to the club he pays his niece Tracey (played by Sarah Polley) to baby-sit his seemingly absent daughter. The viewer gets to know the strip club DJ, Eric (Elias Koteas); a stripper, Christina (Mia Kirshner) who dances for Francis and happens to be Eric's ex-girlfriend; and the very pregnant (by Eric) club owner Zoe (Arsinee Khanjian) who is having an affair with Christina.

The plot is an example of elliptical storytelling in that it moves in a purposeful ever-circling way to slowly reveal the connections between the worlds of each character. There is enough misdirection to keep the viewer wary of their perceptions. They must pay complete attention and remember what they see.

There are significant technical reasons to like this film. It is first and foremost a director's film and Adam Egoyan's directing is amazing. A director is responsible for both casting and for directing their cast. For Exotica Egoyan added to his cast of regulars two of the best young actresses (Kirshner and Polley) in Canada. Kirshner's performance provides an extremely unusual combination of sensuality and thinly masked pain. Polley is simply the most subtly expressive actress in film today. They are world class talents who seem to deliberately stay away from mainstream films but have little trouble getting lots of work. Greenwood, McKellar, Koteas, and Khanjian, are likewise excellent. Egoyan kept all six reined-in so that their performances are low-key and restrained. While there were many stylish and beautiful camera shots he mostly keeps the characters at a distance. Exotic décor, busy sets, atmosphere, restrained acting, minimal tight shots, and frequent plot misdirection keeps the viewer from bonding or strongly identifying with the characters. He did not want the viewer getting into the heads of the characters, he wanted us to internalize the theme and to take it into our heads. This way if we pay attention we will learn as much about ourselves as we will about the characters.

The theme is substitution, how the process of living is simply a process of substitution. We grow out of things and find substitutes for them. We lose something precious but we carry on by finding a substitute. We expand our horizons and find substitutes that we did not know about or that we thought unattainable. We need something we can't have so we find something that works as a substitute. Sometimes the substitutes are an improvement on the original, sometimes they are a better match with a new stage of life, sometimes they are an imperfect substitute but the best that we can manage, and sometimes (certainly in this film) they are an addictive trap that keep us from moving on or growing.

Most people's dreams don't come true and they settle for a substitute, often without really noticing. The most compelling scene in `Field of Dreams' is when Burt Lancaster is talking about what it was like to give up his dream of playing major league baseball. He says: `It was like coming this close to your dream and then watching it brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time I didn't think much about it. We just don't recognize the most significant moments in our lives when they happen. Back then I thought: there will be other days, I didn't realize that was the only day'. While his character accepted the end of his dream and substituted a life as the town doctor, in Exotica the substitutes are dysfunctional because there is no acceptance. That is why so many of the substitutions involve payment, a transactional substitution is a temporary event and allows the illusion to stay alive.

Exotica focuses on the substitutes used by its central characters. Francis substitutes Christina for his daughter and Tracey for Christina (when she was his daughter's babysitter). Eric substitutes his club DJ job for the career he wanted in radio, he substitutes his voyeurism in the club for his inability to have a lasting relationship. Zoe substitutes for her dead mother and continues to run the club, instead of a husband she has Eric contractually substitute so that she can have a baby. Thomas substitutes his opera liaisons for a real relationship and substitutes an incubator for the eggs he has taken from a nest. Christina substitutes a protective Francis for her uncaring and probably abusive father. Voyeurism substitutes for interaction.

Eric's voyeurism eventually leads him to the conclusion that the Francis-Christina mutual dependency has gone from a temporary coping mechanism to an addictive trap. He elects to destroy that relationship by convincing Francis to touch Christina. Eric knows that the relationship must end once this occurs, no matter how Christina reacts. Either she will no longer be able to use Francis because he betrayed her trust or Francis will no longer be able to use her because he can no longer maintain his illusion of protecting her purity. Then they will both have to move on and seek new and hopefully more positive substitutes.

Contrary to some who have commented on this film I did not see any real `plot holes'. Almost every detail is eventually explained and if anything Egoyan made the plot a little too predictable. But at least this was balanced by some interesting misdirection-like having Tracey live above a shabby strip mall so you jump to the conclusion that she is a child prostitute and that Francis has a thing for young girls. Certainly on the second viewing it is clear that many clues are provided and that the outcome is being subtly telegraphed throughout the film in a kind of mental striptease.

As already mentioned, the really unique feature of this movie is that the viewer does not really connect with the characters but instead connects with the substitution theme. The audience is given a new perspective from which to think about their own substitutions. Perceptive members of the audience are forced to be more than observers. This is powerful stuff.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MASTERPIECE, February 2, 2002
By 
Daniel S. "Daniel" (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Exotica (DVD)
In my opinion, Atom Egoyan's EXOTICA is one of the best movies of the last decade. Those of us who had the opportunity to watch in the eighties Egoyan's first movies such as THE ADJUSTER or FAMILY VIEWING are not surprised by the nowadays international recognition of the armenian-canadian director. With EXOTICA, he has joined the very small guild of the writer/directors whose name will be remembered in the future.
Atom Egoyan is treating such universal themes as Redemption, Guiltiness or Desire, mixing them in a puzzle of images and subplots that leave us petrified by the beauty of the movie and the deepness of the feelings experienced by the characters. EXOTICA, like a book you cherish, must be seen several times in order to appreciate the complexity of the screenplay. Don't hesitate to buy it, you cannot be wrong with this movie.
There are alas no bonus features with this Disney/Buena Vista DVD, a company that prefers present extra long documentaries about the making of some infantile movie rather than contribute to the nobler but less profitable effort to help true artists reveal their work. Shame.
A DVD zone your library.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You Have To Ask Yourself What Brought The Person To This Point?", January 16, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Exotica (DVD)
This is an undiscovered gem of a film with an incredibly inventive and powerful script that is sure to suprise and please. 'Exotica', a "Gentleman's Club", is the focal point of a world in search of meaning. Men come not just to watch beautiful women sensually dance in various stages of undress. They come to forget, however briefly, the pain and suffering they have experienced in the world outside.

Christina (Mia Kirshner) and Eric (Elias Koteas) work at the club, Christina as a dancer, Eric as the DJ. As the customers watch the enchanting Christina perform on-stage and privately, Eric watches the customers watch her. As you might have guessed, while moods and emotions are generally muted and controlled within the confines of Exotica they are forever on the verge of breaking through the illusory nature created and sustained by alcohol and sexual stimulation. There are untold stories to be brought into the light of day and only when the truth is known will the many tangled relationships and reasons for being there finally make sense.

Director Atom Egoyan has conjoured up a place outside of time and space, a purgatorial oasis where all regrets, memories and hopes converge into the incessant drone of the music and the tantalizing movements of the dancers. Truly a stunning vision that will stay with the viewer for quite sometime. Definitely not a film for everyone, 'Exotica' deals with adult situations and contains numerous scenes of nudity and some mild homosexuality. However this thoughtful, probing tale ultimately transcends most of the dark, depressing elements and offers a ray of hope and forgiveness. If you're the adventureous type who is looking for something different 'Exotica' is definitely the film for you.

Mia Kirshner and Elias Koteas (two of my favorite actresses/actors) are fantastic. Also wonderful performances by Bruce Greenwood, Don McKellar, Arsinee Khanjian and a young Sarah Polley.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obsession and desire, Atom Egoyan's best to date., December 25, 1999
This review is from: Exotica (DVD)
An obsession is not unlike a dream, in the sense that you can find in both a very peculiar stance where sensibility and madness go hand in hand. But any attempt, by man or woman, to tread new roads to and from such places is often futile, simply because the journey to such underminded conditions is always one of self-discovery and self-torture.
Quite possibly his most sucessful movie to date, Atom Egoyan's marvelously written EXOTICA delves deeply into the world of pain and obsession, painting for us a canvas in which the characters and their stories are never static or cold, but organic and contrived. Painfully marred by their fractured lives and by their fears.
EXOTICA tells the story of three very enigmatic and confused individuals. Francis (Bruce Greenwood), an obsessed man who recently went through a very traumatic experience; Christina (Mia Kirshner), an erotic table dancer who has a very special relationship with Francis, and finally Eric the club's D.J. (powerfully played by Elias Koteas), who seems in turn to be obsessed with Christina.
As I was watching the movie, I quickly became enthralled with the story, if for no other reason simply because I was absorbed at how very well portrayed the characters were. It seems that at some point or another we all go through times when our own existance seems to flicker, something breaks inside which gnaws away our sanity. The only way to prevent our destruction is to see ourselves reflected in someone else's life.
This is the story told in EXOTICA. Don't be discouraged by the name, the movie is very enjoyable and fun. I was particularly amazed by Elias Koteas performance. The DVD edition is nicely presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1, the video transfer is solid throughout and even though there are no extras to speak of, I think the movie itself is worth its price (or at least a rent). Give it a try, I recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pity about the cover, January 18, 2000
By 
This review is from: Exotica [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film is so beautifully odd and bizarre, yet in a strange way close to the human heart. I was reluctant to watch this film due to the dreadful cover of the videotape but was talked into it by a film fanatic who owned a small video store with independent films.... I have to admit the cover for the video is dreadful (to say the least) but this film..what can I say? An original work, like no other American (Canadian? Miramax is American and Canada is North America, so American) "independent" of the 90s. From the simple yet captivating direction and cinematography, to the intelligent and deeply emotional screenplay, the beautiful mise-en-scene and decor, and ofcourse the eery Middle Eastern soundtrack, the film is a flawless masterpiece. But I still insist....Shame on those who designed the cover for the video...as well as Miramax for selling the movie as a more sophisticated version of "Showgirls."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Daringly Original Film About the Trappings of Fate, December 20, 2001
By 
cdset "cdset" (Saylorsburg, PA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Exotica [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A brilliant and complex film that intertwines the destinies of four people via a strip club named "Exotica". This club is an appropriate meeting place for these characters since it is a metaphor for what is happening in the film: the stripping bare of each character's hidden secrets and painful histories.
Fate/destiny/karma is the major theme of this penetrating film. The characters feel trapped by the circumstances that life has handed them and feel helpless and manipulated by fate. "We rarely have the luxury of choosing our life..," exclaims the stripper, elaborating upon the theme of the film. "No one asks to be born...," declares the auditor, as he ponders the terrible tragedies that his destiny has afforded him. In addition, as the destinies of the characters converge, we learn each one has been both pain inflictor and healer to the other, similar to the theme of "balancing one's karma".
The director skillfully plays out these themes in a highly creative and original way. We are slowly drawn into the lives of these characters in a mysterious, film noir atmosphere. The perceptive script, haunting score, and non linear storyline all contribute to the powerful impact this dazzling film has on the audience. It is a film not to be missed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE MOST SURPRISING MOVIES I'VE EVER SEEN, March 23, 2001
By 
RMurray847 (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Exotica (DVD)
Okay, I'll admit it. The box cover tempted me to rent it, particularly as the quoted reviews on the box were good. But it was not what I expected. The whole movie is about being not what you expected. We think we understand the people we are seeing, we want to put them into stereotypes, but it doesn't work that way. The movie shows how one event (which we never fully understand until the VERY end) can have life-changing impacts on so many people. We see all these strange plot elements coming together, almost (sorry for the cliche) like a rug being woven. Seeming unconnected elements come together into a whole.
It is also a sad movie. Not like a tear-jerker sad, but a sadness that permeates all the characters throughout. They have no joy...the stripping has ZERO joy, so do not get this movie if you want stripping. It is paced to match this sadness, and the performances are minimal and spare. If you need fast-paced, Hollywood style plot development, stay far away. If you need something though-provoking, surprising and emotionally draining, here you go! (Be sure to see Egoyan's SWEET HEREAFTER too.)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shallow to deep., April 13, 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (Falmouth, MA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Exotica (DVD)
One has to wonder if those who rated this movie poorly 'got it'. I gave this to a co-worker and he was highly confused at the end because he missed a critical link. For myself, I'm not sure what I expected. I knew I liked Mia Kirshner, and the pick-up of the DVD in a bargain bin was a "what the heck" purchase though I'd read reviews that seemed to promise a dark, disturbing, thought provoking movie.
Well, the packaging, as alluded to in the description, makes this seem like a standard erotic thriller. The addition of much of the action taking place in a strip club only seems to reinforce this as being standard, even shallow, fare. It's anything but. It might not be believable as a story, but the characters themselves are. Not only that, but fittingly enough, the shallowest seeming character through much of the film turns out to be potentially the most complex. It wasn't until after the end credits had rolled, and while still wrapping my mind around the whole canvas of the movie, it clicked as to why the character may have acted in a certain way.
I'll add a disclaimer here for anyone interested in the movie. If you are at all squeamish about the concepts of pedophelia, homosexuality, strip clubs, etc... well, just be aware that you might feel highly uncomfortable. I only plead discomfort to the first and parts were painful to watch even though nothing explicitly happens (and as is the case of the whole movie, nothing is anywhere near as simple or obvious as it first appears).
Highly recommended if you want a thought provoking, dark movie that at times makes you do a mental doubletake.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Exotica
Exotica by Atom Egoyan (DVD - 1999)
Used & New from: $12.15
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.