Exotica film poster
|Directed by||Atom Egoyan|
|Produced by||Atom Egoyan|
|Written by||Atom Egoyan|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Release date(s)||May 16, 1994 (Cannes)
March 1995 (wide)
|Running time||103 minutes|
|Budget||CAD 2 million |
Exotica is a 1994 Canadian film set primarily in and around the fictional Exotica strip club in Toronto, Canada. It was written and directed by Atom Egoyan. Music used includes "Montagues and Capulets".
- Note: The story of Exotica is not told in chronological order and important information is often revealed only late in the film. The following synopsis does not reflect the viewer's actual experience of the events as they unfold.
Exotica presents a disparate group of characters whose lives are interconnected by the murder of Francis Brown's (Bruce Greenwood) daughter, with much of the film taking place in a strip club called Exotica. Christina (Mia Kirshner) is an exotic dancer at Exotica, owned by Zoe (Arsinée Khanjian). Eric (Elias Koteas) is the club's DJ and Christina's former boyfriend, and is involved in a complex relationship with Zoe, who is carrying his child. Francis is a customer who comes in on alternate evenings and always has Christina—dressed in a schoolgirl uniform—give him a private dance. This inspires Eric's jealousy.
Francis pays his brother Harold's (Victor Garber) young daughter (Sarah Polley) to babysit on nights that he attends the nightclub. Francis, however, has no children and the girl merely practices music alone until Francis returns from Exotica and drives her home. Francis' relationship with his brother is strained, as the film suggests that he was having an affair with his wife, supported later by the revelation that the car accident that killed Francis' wife also left his brother a paraplegic.
In his professional life, Francis is a tax auditor for Revenue Canada, who is sent to Thomas' (Don McKellar) pet store to audit books of account pursuant to the suspicion that Thomas is profiting from the illegal import of rare bird species. This is confirmed early in the film when Thomas is seen smuggling several Hyacinth Macaw eggs.
Francis is eventually banned from the club when Eric manipulates him into touching Christina during one of her dances (which is against the rules of the club). Around the same time, Francis discovers illegal activities in Thomas' financial records, and forces Thomas to get involved in his conflict with Eric—and we eventually learn that Francis' obsession with Christina has much more complex roots than it first appears, and approaches co-dependency for both characters. One of the film's final scenes, set many years back, shows that the death of Francis' daughter and the discovery of her body is central to the lives of the main characters.
- 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
- At the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, Exotica was nominated for the Palme d'or, and won the FIPRESCI Prize.
- Exotica won the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics.
- Exotica won Best Foreign Film from the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics in 1995.
- At the 1995 Genie Awards for Canadian cinema, Exotica won Best Motion Picture, as well as awards for the best screenplay, direction, music, costume design, cinematography and production design. Don McKellar won the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
- Exotica was named Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival.
- To judge from his own account, Egoyan was quite amused by an unlikely award that this film won: the Adult Video News award for Best Alternative Adult Film of 1996.
- Egoyan, Atom, "Dr. Gonad", Granta #86 (Summer 2004) touches upon Egoyan's unlikely Adult Video award.