|Index||8 reviews in total|
Terrific. I hadn't seen any Egoyan films before, and I'd read some
criticism that led me to expect it to be an incredibly depressing
experience - but it wasn't; not at all. I really enjoyed his insistence on
reminding you that you're watching a film & interest in how cameras affect
Plus, for me there was a lot of humor in it! I don't think you should be worrying about whether it's appropriate to laugh at some scenes - I could hardly keep a straight face every time the goth boy/aspiring actor/hotel staffer was onscreen. Smart, witty, highly recommended.
In all candor, I rented this film because I found out that Michael McMannus
was in it, and I respect the man's acting abilities. Suffice it to say, I
Michael's character, Lance, is a young busboy at a hotel who wants desperately to get a speaking part in a movie, instead of background extra roles. Meanwhile, one of his fellow employees is obsessed with him, and she will do practically anything in order to receive his affections. Essentially a psychological drama, the story basically explores what they will and won't do in order to achieve their goals.
Despite it's "vocal" title, the film can be unnervingly quiet at times, however it's never dull. I couldn't help but get wrapped up in the story and entranced by the powerful performances of all the actors. It's a very powerful, raw and sensual film, definitely not for younger viewers, which is typical of Atom Egoyan films. I would highly recommend it. :)
Personally, I also enjoyed it because it was filmed here in Toronto. I found myself laughing and saying, "I know where that is!" ;)
As my first approach to Egoyan's films, I must say it was a great experience. The movie is about lonely people searching for something or someone, about the influence of media, about life. Its ambientation works excellent. Not an easy movie to see, though; but it's really an experience.
Speaking Parts is not a movie to be merely watched; it must be engaged,
as the main characters (Lance, Lisa and Clara) must choose to engage their
lives rather than just watch. At first, watching or being watched is all:
Lance seems to exist only as others view him. Clara watches and rewatches
video of her dead brother. Lisa watches Lance any way she can--at work,
through renting his movies over and over and watching only his scenes,
watching him do his laundry.
"Words aren't everything," says Lisa, but as beautiful as these look-alike protagonists are, it is the non-beautiful ones around them who have power over them--the power of words. Only when Lance shatters his objective perfection by screaming the one word in the movie that comes truly from himself does he become a real person.
Egoyan's mastery shows in his tight control; every scene, every prop, every movement and gesture reinforces his bleak and nearly-silent vision. Although McManus (Lance) has said that he approached working with Egoyan as "an employee," his talent is showcased in his use of expression and body language to portray the powerful/powerless object of desire and fantasy. Striking images abound, as they must in a film about image, about the relationship between object and subject, between viewed and viewer: Lance facedown in a waste of white sheets, wrists crossed over his head as if bound; Lisa reaching out to touch Lance as if revulsed by him; the similarity in looks between the mute-and-powerless (all beautiful brunettes) and the banal-but-powerful (all bland and blond).
Small aspects of this film seem a bit dated, but Egoyan makes up for it by being so astonishingly innovative with everything else. It's strange to think that lost among the sea of crap that is most 80s cinema, is this deeply idiosyncratic ode to alienation that predates so much that has been come to be taken for granted in international art cinema. David Lynch is the only other filmmaker in North America I can think of who was even close to doing films this interesting in the 80s. Steven Soderbergh pretty much owes "Sex, Lies, and Videotape", and thus his entire career, to having the balls to steal what Egoyan was doing, relatively unseen, at the time, and passing off his own watered-down version.
The celebrated Canadian/Armenian filmmaker Atom Egoyan again trains his voyeuristic gaze on the numbing influence of video technology, showing some of the ways it can be (mis)used to short circuit human emotions. Egoyan's typically oblique and (deliberately) disjointed story of psycho-sexual obsession follows two women, a passive, repressed hotel maid and a frustrated screenwriter, both infatuated with the very same obscure object of desire: a narcissistic gigolo/actor looking for his first 'speaking part'. The scenario is more than a little contrived (among other plot holes is a never accounted for corpse), but the patchy script is offset by the director's eye for imagery and by some of the deadpan ironies of his observations (a video morgue, safe sex via closed-circuit TV, and so forth). Egoyan was one of the first movie makers to locate the real connection between sex, lies, and videotape, but the impression left here is of a talented director capable of something much better.
A struggling actor's job as a hotel custodian is a front for his real
job: being rented out as a gigolo by his supervisor. A co-worker is
obsessed with him, but he ignores and avoids her.
I have come to really appreciate Atom Egoyan. A year ago (2015) I had barely heard of him, and now I have seen almost all of his work. Some I think is among the best that film has to offer, so I wonder why he is not consistently listed with today's top directors. But I guess that's not for me to decide.
"Speaking Parts" offers some interesting ideas, and I really appreciate how the film starts off with no one speaking for several minutes. The reason behind that decision is clever, and I will let the viewer see for themselves. Other aspects are less well-defined, and I did not think the role of Lance was as satisfying as his co-worker. I grew less and less interested in his film career, while the other characters became more intriguing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was a little too self indulgent for me and there was
something immature about it's design. It was still decent, but it left
me feeling empty and unmoved. It just never really came together.
Like most of Egoyan's films, the opening is very puzzling and as you work your way through, things slowly become more clear. I enjoyed this aspect of it greatly. There are also some very striking visuals, some amazing scenes, and the pacing was great.
The Motif involving television sets is overplayed to the point where it starts to become sort of juvenile, most of the acting is Sub Par and the story lacks any strong sense of character motivation.
Even with these flaws, the movie still held my attention. Every time I would start to grow bored, another great scene would come along and save it.
I think the script itself is the fundamental problem for "speaking parts". Egoyan unfolds his story brilliantly, but the story itself is missing too many pieces. I was left with questions that should have been made clear. I usually don't mind ambiguity but in this story it was a problem for me and the whole conclusion felt like a tacked on let-down.
So anyway... I recommend this with a few reservations. This director has made several films that are much, much better.
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