Killing With Kindness

Atom Egoyan's serial-killer thriller Felicia's Journey is gentle to a fault

Overall, in fact, Felicia's Journey lacks the impact of The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica. Although they deal with many of the same themes (memories and obsessions, familial dysfunction, emotional isolation), the earlier films masterfully shuffled a host of characters, plots, and time frames in a process as controlled as it was complex. (Some also found it cold, but it seems to me that Egoyan's cinematic dissections are emotionally piercing precisely because of that distance.)

The relatively simple, more traditional structure of Felicia's Journey homes in on a cat-and-mouse game and its players' separate histories: Felicia's freshly aborted love affair, and Hilditch's equally painful yet more distant childhood. Even as Egoyan gently warps the serial-killer genre and cleverly unfolds his story, he also sacrifices his deftly symbolic style for more straightforward storytelling. The result is a highly polished film, albeit one that's more interesting in theory than in execution. Despite his reputation for intellectual rigor, it almost seems as if Egoyan was bored by Felicia's Journey: His grasp is beyond his reach.

 

Let the healing begin: Bob Hoskins in Atom Egoyan's Felicia's Journey
Let the healing begin: Bob Hoskins in Atom Egoyan's Felicia's Journey

Felicia's Journey starts Friday at the Uptown Theatre.

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