Movie Information

Genre: Drama
Director: Atom Egoyan
Starring: David Alpay, Charles Aznavour, Eric Bogosian, Brent Carver, Christopher Plummer
Rated: R

Atom Egoyan’s 2002 film, Ararat, met with very mixed reviews and a less-than-enthusiastic push by its distributors, Miramax. The film didn’t play in Asheville, which was understandable to some degree — not so much because the topic of the film is a volatile one, but because the film is so heavily layered in its construction and in the themes it explores that it can be viewed as needlessly convoluted and too deliberately difficult. In fact, a number of reviewers found it to be so.

Frankly, I think Ararat verges on the brilliant and is a much more interesting work than Egoyan’s admirable but over-praised The Sweet Hereafter.

Yes, the subject matter is heavy: Turkey’s genocide against its Armenian population in 1915 (an event the Turkish government still has not admitted to). It’s also personal: Egoyan and quite a few of his collaborators on this film — Charles Aznavour, Eric Bogosian, Arsinee Khanijan (Egoyan’s wife) — are of Armenian descent.

Rather than simply telling the story, Egoyan chooses to tell the reasons behind telling it. He presents the historical story as a film being made by an Armenian filmmaker (Aznavour) in Canada, connecting the present to the past and the effects of the past on the present. Characters from the film story cross over into the story of the film’s making, yielding a sense of connectivity that’s almost tangible.

Egoyan’s point has as much to do with why he needed to make the film and how this part of history impacts the world even today. It’s challenging and ambitious, but it’s also richly compelling and thought-provoking. Rated R for violence, sexuality/nudity and language.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.