He’s something of a darling to the Canadian new wave cinema, but Atom Egoyan’s second feature is particularly exasperating precisely because there are streaks of filmmaking talent visible through the pretentious murk of this disjointed story about a single-minded young man and his emotionally pulverized family life.
Egoyan’s film stands shakily upon a glib foundation of familiar themes. These include ruptured familial communication in an impersonal urban society, the displacement of human feelings in an age of instant sensual gratification and the subsuming of modern life to the omnipresent value systems of the video tube.
At the center of all this is college graduate Van (Aidan Tierney), who lives in a high-rise co-op with his slightly kinky father Stan (David Hemblen) and dad’s provocatively flirtatious mistress Sandra (Gabrielle Rose).
The devices of home movies (in which the family lives on in its happier nuclear past) and the tiresome use of b&w TV static patterns between scenes are clever mostly in the sophomoric sense. By the time Egoyan moves to bring this affair to a hopeful resolution the actors don’t seem to care very much and neither should the audience.