Monday, May 10, 2010

Next of Kin

(Atom Egoyan, 1984)
Egoyan's vision is certainly both recognizable and remarkably out of its time in his first feature, but that's not to say it arrives fully formed. In fact the impurities - namely, the rewardingly earthy immigrant family whose uninhibited domestic dramas occupy the film's centre - are the most attractive thing about it. The film does a better job than you could hope at integrating this material into another media-saturated treatise on alienation, and its view of the old world family with the new world kid is as intimate as it is affectionate as it is ambivalent. And it's pleasing that Patrick Tierney's masquerade as this family's long-lost son is neither exposed and punished nor played for "Armenian Like Me" tolerance lessons. Instead, the film settles into an examination of the universality of role-playing, with both sides finding solace in a tenuous charade, seemingly doomed but strikingly unresolved. Unfortunately, Tierney is altogether too much of a blank slate, although you do get used to him after a while; and the extended luggage-carousel gymnastics of Peter Mettler's first-act cinematography wear out their welcome and upset the film's balance. Still pretty good, though, in its mannered way, and if you keep your eyes peeled you can catch future National Post mouthpiece Andrew Coyne as the windbag in the elevator.

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