Exotica 1994 ****

The title Exotica has a double meaning; not only does writer/director Atom Egoyan focus on the exotic dancers of the Exotica nightclub on the outskirts of Toronto, but the pet-shop run by Thomas (Don McKeller) is funded through the illegal import of bird’s eggs. This playfulness is part of the ingenious notion of Egoyan’s thriller. He intercuts a developing triangle of unrequited lust, as auditor (Bruce Greenwood) enjoys nightly dances from Christina (Mia Kirschner) under the watchful eye of club DJ Eric (Elias Koteas), with a search for a missing girl’s body. Whether this search happens before or after the club tensions is initially unclear, but that’s part of Egoyan’s game; he misdirects the audience brilliantly into expecting a different story to the one he delivers. Greenwood is excellent as a father with a dark past, and there’s a telling role from Sarah Polley as his niece.  Exotica is a brilliant low-budget noir, moody and provocative, but humane in its message.


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