Exotica (1994): Yell! Magazine’s Greatest Films Series

Yell! Review:

Exotica picExotica is a moody, psychological study of one man’s all-consuming guilt and obsession. Francis, a tax accountant whose wife and child have both died, finds himself irresistibly drawn to a local strip joint known as “Exotica.” Every night he goes there to gaze upon Christina, a friend of his deceased daughter whose performance consists of shedding the little-girl costume she wears onstage. But the dancer’s ex-boyfriend, disturbed by Francis’ creepy presence, demands that he stay away from both the club and the young woman. So Francis hires a friend to keep an eye on Christina and report all her doings to him. However, he still cannot accept the loss of his child nor keep his mind off Christina. It’s almost as if only death and Christina’s fall from grace sustain him.

Exotica is Canada’s greatest film. It is also directed by Canada’s greatest director. Atom Egoyan spins a tale of mystery and suspense in Exotica that is a pleasure to watch. Although the main setting for the movie is a strip club in Toronto, the film is not a sex-trade movie.

Exotica Dance Scene

The main plot of the movie is the murder of a little girl and how that tragedy affects (directly or indirectly) the psychological makeup of all the main characters. You do not find this out until the very end and this is where the genius of Egoyan comes through.

Egoyan is a master storyteller (he also wrote this screenplay) and his gifts are best represented in this film. Where many directors bond with their audience by showing them plot angles that characters in the film are not privy to (Hitchcock was great for this), Egoyan decided to move in a different direction with this film and leave his audience out of the loop. He bounces back and forth from scene to scene that at first seem unrelated. The viewer wonders how each character is connected to the overall story and how these random scenes mesh to tell that story. Egoyan leaves us dangling until the very end, where all things are revealed. Although Egoyan was not the first to set up a movie in this manner, he is one of the best to do so.

Exotica movie pic

Where Egoyan pushes you away (from the frustration of not knowing exactly what is going on), he will drag you back in by flirting with the taboo. The main female character, Christina (played by Mia Kirshner), is dressed in a school girl uniform when she strips. The relationship between Frances (Bruce Greenwood) and his house-sitter niece, Tracy (Sarah Polley), seems to be too close. Zoë (Arsinée Khanjian) is having Eric’s (Elias Koteas) child through some sort of legal arrangement yet is somehow involved in a lesbian relationship with Christina (who is also Eric’s ex-girlfriend).

Because Egoyan arranged the film to be mysterious until the end, Exotica is a perfect candidate for interesting reviewing. You can watch the film a second time acting as Egoyan confidant (as you now know the storyline), which gives you a whole new perspective on the film. In fact, each time you return, you will pick up on subtle areas you previously missed.

Exotica Gallery:

Exotica Poster
Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
Year Released:
23 September 1994
Atom Egoyan
Mia Kirshner, David Hemblen, Elias Koteas, Bruce Greenwood, Don McKellar, Sarah Polley
Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Official URL:

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