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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.
I don't usually give movies a rating of 1. Normally I have the good sense not to sit through movies that I'm going to hate. However, in this case the filmmaker was Atom Egoyan so I decided to bear it out.
Calendar is one of those films which hangs in time. The events on the screen are initially incomprehensible to us, but as the plot drags on, the same basic scenes are repeated again and again, each time casting new light on the relationship between the protagonist and his wife.
Egoyan seems to have a love affair with European languages. A large portion of the film is spent listening to women of various nationalities jabbering on the phone (without being able to understand what they are saying).
Then there are the scenes where Egoyan films his wife's trip to Armenia. The whole episode is deliberately constructed to play like a home movie. The subtle nuances in these scenes are overshadowed by the fact that the scenes themselves are boring.
A large part of the home video is spent having Egoyan's wife translate one character's narratives from Armenian to English. The last film I saw with that plot device was Godard's "Contempt" and I hated it then as well.
Egoyan even ridicules this plot device in a subsequent scene when his photographer character spends several minutes (onscreen) videotaping a man talking without having any conception of what he is talking about.
There is a section in the middle of the film where the plot seems to accelerate. We see the distance forming in the relationship between Egoyan and his wife; meanwhile, Egoyan opens up to his date about the Armenian foster child he supports.
At this point, I had mentally upgraded my evaluation of the film to at least a 2. But shortly thereafter, the film reverted to its previous boring tone.
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