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FELICIA'S JOURNEY

SYNOPSIS:
A lonely middle-aged catering manager, Joseph (Bob Hoskins), is obsessed with video tapes of an eccentric TV chef (Arsinee Khanjian). Meanwhile, Felicia (Elaine Cassidy) is making her way from Ireland to find her boyfriend (Peter McDonald), who moved to Birmingham, England to get a job in a lawn-mower factory. On arrival, she makes casual contact with a seemingly helpful Joseph, who recommends a boarding room to her. He has done this before . . . for more than a dozen young women. But his outward kindness hides a despicable truth. Much of the story is told in flashbacks, revealing how the characters got to the point where they now find themselves.

"Canadian wonderboy Atom Egoyan hasn't quite hit the mark this time. The widely acclaimed director of such gems as The Sweet Hereafter has once again explored a dark world where people fail to connect, except in harmful ways. The setting this time is Ireland and depressing Birmingham. Our two protagonists are characters who are somehow stuck in a past that promised a more ideal future. These are damaged people in a damaged world looking for salvation. The plot revolves around that salvation, the lure of a serial killer, and the innocence of a young girl. As is his style, Egoyan plays with time in the film, constantly moving between the events which made our protagonists what they are now and their current world in which they struggle to survive. This is a beautifully put together piece but it drags and can be quite turgid, often bogging down in it's own seriousness. Egoyan allows himself too much time to explore his story. Lingering shots have long before established their intent, yet he continues to hold us there. These shots reflect the lack of discipline about the whole piece. While Elaine Cassidy is quite strong in the title role, Bob Hoskins sometimes overplays serial killer Joseph Hilditch. It's a great pity because it could well have matched his performance in Mona Lisa had Egoyan simply pulled him back on the few occasions when he wandered into eyebrow raising melodrama. In that sense the performance of Hoskins reflects the film as a whole: mostly good, mostly engaging, but a little flabby around the edges."
Lee Gough

"As Lee says, there is much to admire, but Felicia's Journey isn't as complete as Egoyan's Sweet Hereafter, nor as haunting or touching or real. He tries, though, and Hoskins - when not overdoing it - creates a wonderfully complex character through suggestion and nuance. The film looks great, with an uncanny, intangible darkness lurking beneath the shots, and the judicious use of the natural light suffuses many scenes with a tension that helps maintain interest. The pace is a problem, though, and where time twisting created a spectacular emotional landscape (matching the physical one) in Sweet Hereafter, in Felicia's Journey the time jiggling works against the film's emotional power. That's the problem with making a great film: your next one is up against it."
Andrew L. Urban

"Felicia’s Journey showcases Atom Egoyan’s cunning directorial talents. Far from simply telling a story, Egoyan employs a variety of techniques that manipulate his viewers, leading us along the pre-determined path of his design. This is primarily evidenced in the structure of the plot. Egoyan deliberately teases the audience by withholding information, gradually leaking vital clues through exquisitely timed flashbacks. He provides character motivation, even for the minor roles, by seamlessly moving to crucial moments in their individual histories. Information about Hilditch’s violent past trickles out, slowly painting a portrait of an evil monster, regardless of the fact that we never see his crimes. Through a quick cut to a past conversation with her Irish Nationalist father, the vulnerable Felicia becomes layered, with years of cultural and political baggage weighing upon her. The overlapping soundtrack is a double assault on the senses – we get under the characters’ skins by hearing what they hear, while the director simultaneously has the musical score control our emotions. Egoyan also uses music in the film to add definition to his characters. Hilditch’s scenes are characterised by sentimental ballads while Felicia’s are bathed in more traditional Irish sounds. What makes these techniques so powerful is that they enable the viewer’s journey to mirror that of the central characters. We ride along with Hilditch alternating between sympathy for and abhorrence of him, all the while liking his eccentricities and doting nature. Then in a crucial scene, as he is about to go in for the kill, Egoyan has Hilditch look directly into the camera as though he is implicating the audience as conspirators. Hoskins’ outstanding performance enables Hilditch’s journey to reach its satisfying completion from a state of deluded lack of accountability for his actions, to an understanding of his true nature. Unfortunately, as a result of Cassidy’s limited range of expressions, her journey does not reach its completion with such wholeness. Egoyan subtly hints at her transition into a more modern world through her appearance, clothes and surroundings. Yet it is difficult to believe that she has moved to a deeper understanding of pain and healing, since she spent the entire film looking so overwhelmed."
Angie Fox

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

TRAILER

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

FELICIA'S JOURNEY (M15+)
(UK/Canada)

CAST: Bob Hoskins, Elaine Cassidy, Peter McDonald, Claire Benedict, Brid Brennan

PRODUCERS: Bruce Davey

DIRECTOR: Atom Egoyan

SCRIPT: Atom Egoyan, William Trevor (Novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Paul Sarossy

EDITOR: Susan Shipton

MUSIC: Mychael Danna

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jim Clay

RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 10, 2000







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