Atom Egoyen's films are usually too cerebral for easy mass consumption, or are an aquired taste. But with Exotica he found a perfect blend of accessibility (borrowing elements of the Thriller captivating to a wider audience) but without selling out his art.
Some have called it his most "commercial" film, set largely in a stripclub, & having an unsolved brutal murder as background story. Despite exploitation elements, Exotica transcends any degree of pandering.
I must admit that as the story unfolded before my eyes, I worried there was going to be a commercial Hollywood climax with plenty of bloodshed, that it could at any moment turn into a slasher film with pornographic undertones, such were the intensities of the film's undertones.
But where Atom took these familiar scenarios was so original, with characters' emotions as real as in all of his films. It is at times as though the director asked himself "what if" a familiar, noirish filmic environment such as normally results in car chases & gun blasts & rising bodycounts was inhabited, instead, by real people with real human responses, & who got in their predicaments due to the shattering events of their lives.
Occasionally his films have been a chore to get through, even though rewarding to all who give it a heroic try, but Exotica is no struggle. It unfolds with a kind of horrific aesthetic beauty and climaxes in revelation.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl