Pursuing the obsession with sex, death and videotape evident in Family Viewing, Egoyan here addresses the dangers of 'living in a situation in which everything depends upon one's attachment to, or rejection of, certain images'. For Clara (Rose), the danger lies in her desire to turn her dead brother's life into a TV movie, a project from which she is progressively erased. For shy hotel chambermaid Lisa (Khanjian), who watches videos of the man she loves as an extra in movies, it's her naive ignorance of the medium's potential for manipulation. Handsome gigolo Lance (McManus) has a role in both their lives; as the object of Lisa's unrequited, strangely ritualised love; as Clara's lover and the actor playing her brother in the film. In striking contrast to the flat, degraded video images of Family Viewing, the visuals here are lush and beautifully designed; still, a sensation of unreality persists. Machines like the video telephone link used by Lance and Clara as a sex aid seem to hinder rather than aid communication. Nevertheless, far from condemning recording media out of hand, Egoyan scrutinises our ambiguous relationship with them; and as the characters grope towards less alienated (self) images, the film achieves a remarkable synthesis of intellectual analysis and deeply felt emotion.
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