[REBE- Dirty dancing

With Exotica. arthouse l'avourite Atom Egoyan has won his widest audience to date. He tells 'l‘revor Johnston about how a group ol‘ lost souls l‘ind rel‘uge in the sexual rituals ol" the strip clttb.

'l‘\ e always been intrigued by the idea of setting a lilm in a strip cluh.‘ explains (’airo‘horn. (‘anadian- bred. .-\rmenian—descetided writer-producer-director Atom ligoyan. one ot’the few people you'll ever meet who w as named in honour ol~ a nuclear pow er plant ‘\\'hat happens in them is iust so odd. You hire a woman. or a man (they have gay clubs in Toronto too. of course) to come ov er to your table. do this incredibly exotic dance where they drape themselves all over you. but you're not allowed to tottch back. You can etul tip spending a lot ot~ money over the course ot’ an evening for something that doesn't

. . . . . . , ‘I to; i u I’ ' . promise you any sattstaction at the end ol it all. Why 'I "‘ ; “J”, . . . . . 2 that should he so popular has always tascitizttetl tne: t .‘ '. ' _ - . 1 L H

there's something masochistic about it. yet also something very tribal. very ritualised.‘

Exotica: ‘more than a slice-ot-seedy-lite piece about a skin ioint’ :

Likc an), 0" {he pmmwmisls m pg”)me WCCm skin joint. ironic palliative tor a major relationship that's gone films; whose occupation is a key to their VMH‘UUL—‘l‘ ll Wk“ l’lllCC l” 11 50‘ Clllbv "'5‘ "01 1mm” awry. Now. in [Cm/it'd. the treatment of the theme , “UN 1” fills WNW“ l5¥“."i"‘~ “'l‘OSC "Ward “l. “10 becomes rather more theatrical. as the routines of the 2 You thB a woman, or a man, to come International ('ritics Prize in (‘annes last year started “Medium,” duh ()H‘Cr‘ rm- lime m tum. a i OVBI' t0 VOUI’ table, bllt you’re "Gt allowed th l‘i‘ll mm”? ll" 1‘ mm “mm hi“ “0” ["0 l0”? ritualised activity which holds troubling sexuality in to touch back_ You can end up spending a “"10 WWW" 11ml ill'llll’llw lilVl’Ul'llC h" “’l‘lC-‘l a kind of no-eontaet suspension and offers a mode of

audteuce to date. ll snot tthotll Cl'tulcts‘ttt Lllltct. c\cli financial mmmumn mm In”). L«pliant. Ihc (“ulcctic ll ll ‘ll’C‘ “59 llls” imnm'Phcrc- “‘9 ccmml 9‘“? “l [he of mutual need in the momentary relationship

lot of money for something that doesn’t

prom'se you any satISfaCtlon tilm simply doesn‘t allow the viewer to escape into hcmccn dam“. and mm“. l‘antasy. It doesn't allow you that space. it llllll’s‘t‘S YOU ‘.»\s a word. “exotica” is \(l evocative. but what is it

l’SFCh‘HUE—‘m‘l Cll'Clllll-‘lilnccv‘ lhc aspiring “Cl” aware ot' the image in a very sell-conscious way. and that (icfincg n3" mum [gun-ML Mm at only 3i hag ‘. “mm”? ll)" 11” lde")' l” Sl’l’UNNs’ I’m/S. lot because all these characters in the lilm are drawn alreadv built up a considerable hodv of work. ~‘When I l”““”¢¢~ “‘9 l'l‘lll‘iulcc lmC-‘lli—‘i‘lm‘SCUM”? 1150"“ together in the al’termath of an act ol‘ violence against (lugs something become “exotic” to tts .’ To me. that of belonging in The .lrljtls‘lt’l'. 01' CW” lhc 1| young E—‘ll'l‘ “‘9 “'“UU'” “l Sllll‘k‘l'lnil )0” “CC 1151‘ whole notion verv hrot‘ound lot‘ us and our . thogl'ill‘lm' (l‘lUNUl h." ESUW" hlllls‘k‘ll.) in result ol that action prevents the viewer using it for experience. Wm.” M'mmhim: “mm. {0 WM. m (“l/"’l‘lm' “’l‘“ “nth “"1150”.l'Cl’lllylng “‘9 Vldc‘) their own gratification. These are traumatised i mmu‘a’c “l lhc lWilll‘m ilxxlilnmcm (luring “’thh “9 individuals. and what the film's really chronicling is ‘A'though takes place in a sex cIub it’s l SPlit “’llll hi5 WWW" " “W '0“ 501'" “'h“ ClU-‘ICY how thev heal themselves. how they cope with a , t around the sex club in limtim bring their own profound sense ot loss.‘ "Pt, am"! sex at a”: s "at abut" personal. highly troubled agenda to the kind of With m- Ruuxwuuaikc jungle mumlS and a music erottclsm Blthel’, even If It does use that ilCllVll)’ mi“ 8005 0” CWT" (lily l" CVCI‘)’ Cit." ll‘i' "WCh score that weaves all tuanner of Eastern instruments atmosphere.’ ' "WW Pmch Wib’“”*~ into the dance heats that accompany the club !

“9"” lhc “N “l Cl‘ill'ilclc” l511\'ill‘l“l“nc “‘ {ml}. sequences. limited lives up to its title. but Egoyan something outside ot‘ us. That point at which our l the b'W’dl”? cum I” 11”“ “CCUSW'W' MC Eric lEllil“ uses the very idea ot‘ ‘exoticism‘ as a key metaphor memories or the tlungs that we're actuallv going Koteas. who previously starred as The .-\t/ju.\‘rer). the ' tor the way these troubled souls cope with the through can become “exotic” is the central focus of 3'0"”? (limu‘l' (illl'Nl'lil \Vllh “hm” “0‘3 (‘li-‘C-‘Wd‘ extremes of their experience. A prime idea in the film. lt‘s the name of the club and the prevailing “3119'?” Pam)” l:l:1”‘_C"‘ (311100 (it'CCHWUWll. 11 ll“ _ . ligoyan‘s work is the notion that people dissipate the 3 mood. because I‘ve alwavs believed that human (slidlilmifihmcHQ lg ICHIC'HlH [:3 till” breakup “l “'5 emotional damage and disappointments of their lives l beings find nothing moreabsorbinu than [he

11'1"." 1L5 '0 “"111” l )0'11‘C "C 11'1C0'\\"'ll01'0l bv d 'v~ i' g i“st)ti;d ritu; ls that kee i th' min i i - v '~'v v f - .. , H: . .. ' 32 Short l-‘i/ntv ,tlmu/ (Ilemt (inn/(l). a pet shop “BL-GUS? m‘ i U 1 I L I I :I::)Iflfi:l:[::($12131: 0.,“ "EXPQMLL; WW. “L __

_ , . p c ttanstoumng the pain in their ll\cs

"WW" and Pim‘llmC “Wilt—"C" “lth draw” “"0 ln 'l‘lie {id/(MU r. for example. the insurance man Franc” 5 illlglll-‘hul CXPCHC'WC “'ht‘” lht‘ WW" ; becomes the t'ather he never was to his own family (WWW ‘0 100k 1“ h” “(Wk-\- YC‘ 1'10 (lurk CW!“ In lht‘ ' when he looks alter the claim procedures ot clients

through this kind of self-made myth. lt might seem strange or absurd. but l've always marvelled at

. i . . human beings” capacity for perversitv.‘

past that provides a link between themmakes Izmm'u desperater in need of support at tragic times in their lira/it'd opens at the Glasgow l-‘i/m 'l"/I('(III'¢' and much more than a shce-ot—seedy-hle piece about a , lives. In ('u/e/u/ur. serial dating becomes a half— Edinburgh Film/muse (m Nit/av 28 April.

28 The List 2| Apr-4 May 1995