PRINT November 1999


Atom Egoyan

BY LEAVING HIS CUSTOMARY Canadian settings and cast of regulars behind in this adaptation of William Trevor’s novel Felicia’s Journey, director Atom Egoyan may have intended to challenge himself by filtering his customary preoccupations with family dysfunction and video technology through someone else’s vision. But the result falls far short of his 1997 adaptation of Russell Banks’s The Sweet Hereafter.

Here, Felicia (Elaine Cassidy), a pregnant Irish teenager, travels to England in search of her baby’s father and winds up in the clutches of the obsessional factory manager Hilditch (Bob Hoskins). Hoskins makes the most of a plum role (a far cry from the thugs he normally plays), and ably conveys a complex character’s mix of menace and childlike vulnerability. Unfortunately, he overshadows Cassidy’s bland performance to such an extent that Felicia plays second fiddle on her own journey. Egoyan’s films usually start out at a chilly distance and gather emotional force as they poke behind the characters’ masks‚ but Felicia’s Journey (which opens November 12) all too often settles for the surface.

Steve Erickson