From the first moments of the methodical, slow piano chords, the panning camera moving across a painted wall of faux nature, I could tell Exotica would be a treat. A film shrouded in relative obscurity, unacceptable it may be that this hasn’t received a wider audience, this film somewhat forgotten by the mainstream is a desirable masterclass in story-oriented tension. Perhaps the seedy atmospheres and infrequency of solid supporting characters would turn away the more Hollywood-oriented heyday of movie-goer, but Exotica has within it such hidden brilliance, a stylish drama with all the usual connectors, but with such unexpected leaps and amazing performances, the largest components working with the smallest, most critical and crucial of details.
No matter what he appears in, I’m convinced that David Thewlis can turn the most asinine and mundane of performances into genuine perfection. His role in the latest Atom Egoyan directed film, Guest of Honour, as a health inspector with a disgraced family, is one such moment that finds us in a film that hasn’t quite got the narrative strengths to muster up overall competence, but is saved tremendously well by Thewlis. My first feature experience with Egoyan sees him tap into the deception at the heart of his clunky, but acceptable and well-paced story, as a woman wrongfully indicted for a sexual assault wishes to remain in prison, whilst her father attempts to uncover the truth.