Ararat
4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
ararat Canadian filmmaker Egoyan combines his intriguing obsessions in this clever and involving film, looking at the nature of truth and history, as well as a shamefully forgotten episode from the history of his own people. The story brilliantly approaches the events from several angles. Central is a young man named Raffi (Alpay), caught between his bitter girlfriend/stepsister (Croze) and his historian mother (Khanjian), who's working as an advisor to a filmmaker (Aznavour) making a movie about the genocide of the Armenians by the Turks in 1915. As Raffi tells his story to a customs official (Plummer), who is connected to the film in another way, we skip around the story, letting all the various pieces fall into place.

It's a bold, ambitious film, and sometimes the scale of it all is a bit overwhelming, but Egoyan is so precise with both his writing and directing that we are never lost for a second. He slowly but surely guides us through each intertwined story, insinuating but never vague, clearly highlighting the characters, situations and complex layers of relationships ... And how they are linked thematically. Parallels abound, catching us off guard and drawing us in unexpectedly. Performances are strong and natural, brimming with passion and uncertainty. Standouts are the newcomer Alpay and Egoyan regular Koteas. Meanwhile, Egoyan again touches on the role of film and video in maintaining memories and filling the gaps in communication between people. Still, there's an odd awkwardness to the whole thing, as if Egoyan is almost too close to the material to step back and look freshly at the material. This weakens the overall punch and allows for some rather obvious sermonising in the final act, not that this isn't an important thing to preach about (it is!). And focussing so much on the political/historical themes lessens the power of the interpersonal drama (most notably Plummer's conflict with his son, played by Carver). But as an examination of the nature of truth and art, this is a stunner of a film.

cert 15 themes, violence, language, sex 21.Oct.02 lff

dir Atom Egoyan
with David Alpay, Christopher Plummer, Arsinee Khanjian, Elias Koteas, Marie-Josee Croze, Bruce Greenwood, Charles Aznavour, Eric Bogosian, Brent Carver, Simon Abkarian, Raoul Bhaneja, Max Morrow
release US 15.Nov.02; UK 18.Apr.03
Alliance Atlantis
02/Canada 1h56

Generations. Raffi has a chat with his mother (Alpay and Khanjian)...

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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "This is a really well organized movie, representing a forgotten chapter in history. It's a must-see. It shows how history really can repeat itself. That's why every action should be taken to prevent it in the future by recognizing the past. Thank you Atom." --Marc Goldberg, Los Angeles 11.Nov.02

"Even though I am not an Armenian and not a Christian, this is a must-see movie." --Eddie, Los Angeles 22.Nov.02 ararat

"According to the film, the Armenians detest the Turkish people, but they have all the rights to dislike a lot from the Turks, and Ali legitimates this main idea by giving very weak answers to the question of the Armenians about the 1915 events. Ali implies that the Ottoman Armies massacred the Armenians without any serious reason but their hate. Egoyan underscores his idea of the Armenians hating the Turkish people because he thinks the Turks hated the Armenians, and this hatred still deeply and badly affects the Armenians' life today. No, not at all. Somebody should ask the opinion of 50 thousand Turkish Armenians still living in Istanbul. Their religious leader, the patriarch, is actually lobbying in European capitals in cooperation with Turkish embassies for Turkey's accession into the EU. What a shame Egoyan contributes to fuel religious and ethnic hatred and inject it into our lives today." --Mehmet Turkkan, Ottawa 27.Nov.02

"A must-see movie. Egoyan deserves an Oscar nomination. Mr Mehmet Turkkan and many like him are unfortunately repeating the Turkish government's offical denialist text and are forgetting to mention the names of Turkish scholars who have spoken out on the subject of Armenian genocide and are forced to live outside of Turkey for obvious reasons." --Abrahamiana, Los Angeles 4.Dec.02

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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