A photographer and his wife take photographs of Armenian churches for use in a calendar. Their driver, a local resident, expounds on the history of the churches while the wife translates. ...
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A photographer and his wife take photographs of Armenian churches for use in a calendar. Their driver, a local resident, expounds on the history of the churches while the wife translates. The photographer becomes jealous of his wife's bonding with the driver. In a series of flash-forwards, the photographer stages identical dinners with several women, who pretend to talk on the phone while he writes. His wife, now estranged from him, leaves repeated messages on his answering machine, asking why he never contacts her. Yet another thought-provoking look into strange, intertwined relationships from the always enigmatic Egoyan.
Atom Egoyan's been very consistent in his career about two things. He likes messing with time frames, and his movies can come across as distant bordering on pretentious. Over the years he's been perfecting the former, and making improvements on the latter, as evidenced in Exotica, and, especially, in the beautiful, devastating The Sweet Hereafter.
Calendar came before those films, and it is even more experimental than they are. It would feel pretentious if it wasn't for the fact that Egoyan (more or less playing himself) portrays himself in a very unflattering light. But the whole enterprise does have that familiar Egoyan chill. He plays a photographer who is taking pictures of old Armenian churches for a calendar.
In what is perhaps an expression of self-doubt regarding his aesthetic instincts, his character seeks only to capture the superficial beauty of the churches, paying little attention to the history behind them. He is on this trip with his wife (played by Egoyan's wife), and both of them are of Armenian origin. In Calendar, Egoyan could be trying to comment on any number of things, about his relationship to his wife, to his roots, and to his art. At times it seems like you can almost discern a message coming through, and the film does become somewhat intriguing, but in the end the director is simply too subtle for his own good. And thus he keeps his audience at arm's length.
The shots of churches, though, are beautiful enough to make one want to visit Armenia.
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