Speaking Parts

Interesting yet maddening, Atom Egoyan's third feature (1989) is a sustained meditation on the uses and meanings of video and TV in personal relations—informed by theoretical work on the subject that links it with such matters as narcissism, voyeurism, sexual obsession, power relations, alienation, and death. The nonrealistic plot concerns a disturbed hotel chambermaid (Arsinee Khanjian) obsessed with a coworker who's an aspiring actor (Michael McManus), a scriptwriter obsessed with her brother's death, a worker at a video rental store who videotapes weddings, and a TV producer. The intricate relations among these figures—one hesitates to call them characters—are mediated mainly by video; even the mechanical crosscutting between them suggests switching channels. There's a lot of food for thought here but very little drama. 93 min.

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