Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Family Viewing

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Atom Egoyan's striking and haunting Canadian feature concerns family ties and video technology, and the strange relationships between them. The plot concerns an alienated young man (Aidan Tierney) who lives with his father (David Hemblin) and his father's mistress in a fancy high rise full of video equipment. The young man becomes increasingly worried about the fate of his grandmother, whom the father has shunted off to a convalescent home. At the institution he becomes acquainted with an ailing woman and her daughter (Arsinee Khanjian), an equally alienated individual who works as a purveyor of phone sex, which his father uses as a stimulus for his lovemaking. The use of video as a tool of voyeurism and as a means of sustaining distance punctuates the narrative with an eerie persistence; Egoyan's measured style makes the most of it, while constructing a spellbinding plot that weaves a curious web of complicity and deceit around the major characters. It's taken a couple of years for this highly accomplished feature to reach Chicago, but it's still as fresh and as compelling as it was in 1987. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, September 22, 7:45, and Sunday, September 24, 6:00, 443-3737)

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