Atom Egoyan("The Sweet Hereafter")'s 1994 film did not recieve the same attention that "Hereafter" did, but it has gained a cult following from fans of the director. It's unfortunate that Miramax sold the film as if it was some sort of late night cable thriller, because it's far more than that. "Exotica" spins around a nightclub where a group of characters are brought together through ties to the club. We're introduced to the characters; Christina, a young dancer who performs often for a lonely auditor named Francis (Bruce Greenwood); Thomas, a pet-store owner and the DJ of the club; played very well by Elias Koteas, who was also excellent in "The Thin Red Line". Through jealousy and emotion, the story falls back on itself, making these people who seemed like strangers closer and closer together. As details are revealed, layers come into view. These are not bad people, these are lonely people who are in pain. Francis and Christina share an unspoken bond, and he wants nothing more than to have her in front of him. While these characters intentions seem at once simple, there is always the feeling as if there's more that's still unsaid. It's that unsure feeling of what will happen next that makes "Exotica" watchable.
By the end, everyone may not be sympathetic for these characters, but the story has pulled the threads of their tales together in an interesting and entertaining way with a suprising ending. Good performances, fine writing and excellent direction make "Exotica" worth a rental if you're a fan of Egoyan's work and never saw this film, or if you're a fan of darker character films like this. "Exotica" also features an early performance from Sarah Polley, who was fantastic in this year's "Go".
VIDEO: Not unwatchable, but not terribly pleasing either. Watching a lot of it makes you wish that this film had been distributed by New Line, who distributed Egoyan's "Sweet Hereafter" and did a far more impressive job with it. Images are soft and although some scenes fare better than others, it's still rather dissapointing. Colors are not terribly rich and remain subtle throughout, but have no major problems. Detail is ok, although it definitely is lacking in some of the dimly lit scenes.
Although there is no shimmering, some of the film has a slightly grainy appearance and there are a few noticable marks in the print used. All in all, picture quality that's consistently mediocre and definitely soft throughout. Not the worst I've seen from Disney, but definitely not as good as this film could look. The box says that the film is presented as 1.66:1, but the film is definitely 1.85:1 on this DVD.
SOUND: The cool, creepy score by Mychael Danna (who also did the score for "8mm") sounds rich and strong, but that's pretty much the biggest element of the audio. Dialogue is fine, although occasionally it isn't as easily understood as I would like it to be.
MENUS:: Basic menu art based on the cover art.
EXTRAS:: None - the norm for Disney catalog titles.
Final Thoughts:May be worth checking out as a rental - hopefully will make a comeback as a "Miramax Special Edition", although it's probably doubtful.