DIRECTOR: ATOM EGOYAN
CAST: DAVID THEWLIS, LUKE WILSON, LAYSLA DE OLIVEIRA
CERTIFICATE TBC; 103 MINUTES
CURZON HOME CINEMA FROM JUNE 5TH
REVIEW by KATHLEEN BONDAR
David Thewlis (Mike Leigh's Naked) plays health inspector Jim, father to music teacher Veronica (Laysla De Oliveira) who inadvertently attracts male attention like a flame to moths in Atom Egoyan's latest off-centre film. When Jim's daughter is accused of inappropriate sexual relations with a seventeen-year-old minor, Jim begins to display unbalanced behaviour signified by his obsession with governmental regulations. Curiously, Veronica welcomes the false accusation and readily accepts a jail sentence during which she reflects upon a cruel misdemeanour as a child.
Daniel Thewlis performs a pathetic, slightly repellent Englishman which seems to be enjoyed by those on the other side of the pond - in this case, Canadians - with the spotlight on all the dull idiosyncrasies of the British accent and mannerisms. He is almost reptilian. His pallid skin needs an unadulterated shot of vitamin D, the result of inspecting too many backroom kitchens and basement toilets. His spiteful antics are calculated, but before you wish him ill, he is redeemed simply by his devotion to his daughter. Laysla De Oliveira steals the screen in an entirely different manner, playing a determined and feisty martyr who brushes off her admirers and punishes her father by taking her punishment without a care.
Guest of Honour works with a low-budget film set in an almost drama-documentary manner. The sets seem realistic - simple, unfussy rooms and public spaces; empty landscapes - as if the mise-en-scene has not been adjusted and the camera has just been switched on to observe in a factual way.
Atom Egoyan, true to form (The Sweet Hereafter with Ian Holm; Chloe with Julianna Moore and Liam Neeson) explores underlying psychological tensions in Guest of Honour when accusations fly and the truth is withheld. The audience is enveloped in a mystery, wondering why Veronica colludes in her own demise. As the narrative spirals onwards and downwards, Guest of Honour, is calmly gripping to the end.
Curzon Living Room Q&A with Atom Egoyan & David Thewlis - 8th June
The live Q&A will begin at 8.30pm (GMT) at http://live.curzonhomecinema.com