Directed By: Atom Egoyan
Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Elias Koteas, Mia Kirshner
Tag line: "In a world of temptation, obsession is the deadliest desire"
Trivia: The director's wife, Arsinée Khanjian, was seven months pregnant when her parts in the movie were filmed
"I wanted to structure the film like a striptease". This is how director Atom Egoyan described his stylistic approach to 1994's Exotica, a movie in which the main setting is a high-end gentleman's club, where women strip for the pleasure of their wealthy clientele. Like a striptease, director Egoyan moves Exotica along slowly, peeling away the layers of its emotionally charged story one at a time, all the while luring us in with a singularly enticing tone.
The Club Exotica caters to the sophisticated, offering adult entertainment to men of 'discerning tastes'. Francis (Bruce Greenwood), an accountant with a tragic past, is one of the Club's many regulars. Each night, Francis requests the same dancer perform at his table, and that dancer is Christina (Mia Kirshner), a beautiful young woman whose act is to dress up like a schoolgirl. At one time, Christina was romantically involved with Eric (Elias Koteas), the club's DJ, and Eric has grown jealous of the 'professional' relationship that Francis and Christina share. What none of them realize, however, is that they all share a very special bond, one that, once revealed, will force each of them to re-examine their lives.
At the heart of Exotica lies a complex tale of betrayal and loss, yet the film is in no particular hurry to reveal it's true intentions. Exotica circles around the outermost boundaries of its story in wide, sweeping motions, shielding it's mystery with a uniquely cerebral tone. As the film progresses, this tone becomes almost hypnotic, teasing and tantalizing us in much the same way the dancers work on their patrons at the Club Exotica.
Because Exotica was so engaging, I found myself completely wrapped up in it's story, and because it's style was so thoroughly addictive, I was more than happy to wait around for the payoff.