This film reminded me of some papers that I wrote back in high school / freshman year of college – jumbled, messy concoctions full of half-baked ideas. I guess Egoyan’s film is pretty. It looks beautiful and in parts reminded me of The Sweet Hereafter (a film I really love) but most of the time, these reminders just served to highlight how vacuous and pretentious this film feels in comparison.
It’s a hodgepodge of ideas that are individually promising (bridging of cultural differences, communication in the age of internet chatrooms, storytelling as a means of trying to get at the truth) but ultimately the film ends up dealing with these issues so superficially and in such a disjointed way that it fails to do justice to any of them. Plus, rather than explore these through the story itself, most of this is dealt with using long stretches of expository dialogue which makes the film rather boring. I liked the fractured narrative of The Sweet Hereafter, especially given that the film itself deals with ideas of memory and regret. This film does the same but here the effect was confusing to me. There were definite points in the first half where I found myself putting pieces together in my head. This would be okay as such except that the only reason we are having to do this is because the filmmaker is being somewhat deliberately confusing. Lots of information is withheld from us (somewhat needlessly imo) and when the big reveal (or reveals) happen, they are either underwhelming or a little incredulous / senseless. Most of the drama feels way too disproportionate ultimately and consequently, I felt no emotional connection to the characters.
Couple of nice shots in the film though. One featuring a person playing a violin by a lake and another shot of a cell phone burning in a bonfire that’s shot rather beautifully.
I didn’t care too much for the performances either. Except there’s one really great performance hidden in this mess of a movie. Scott Speedman is really good as the uncle here and manages to make ridiculous scenes bearable and even poignant. Pity the rest of the movie doesn’t deserve it.