Felica’s Journey

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

If you’ve seen an Atom Egoyan film, you know how difficult it can be to summarize the plot for someone. While most films can be summed up in a few lines, films like this are trickier, since you don’t want to give anything away for those who haven’t seen the movie. So, I will give a very vague description, out of respect for those yet to have seen this, and believe me, it’s much more complex than it sounds in my synopsis. When Felicia (Elaine Cassidy) ventures from Ireland to England in search of her boyfriend, she finds more than she expected, in the form of a lonely chef who operates a catering service. That chef, Joseph Hilditch (Bob Hoskins) spends the majority of his time watching tapes of another chef, and working on his culinary efforts. When the two meet, there seems to be a bond forged from the start, when Hilditch offers the young girl a boarding room in his manor, where she could stay. While everything seems to be on the level in the beginning, we soon learn that Hilditch has had other girls inside his manor, ones that were never allowed to leave. Is Felicia just another victim to Hilditch, or is there much more going on here than either of them think?

When I learned I would be reviewing this title, I was very pleased since I have enjoyed several films by Atom Egoyan, so I figured I would like this one too. But I didn’t think I would like it this much, this is easily Egoyan’s finest work to date, and one of the best films of 1999. It’s hard to encapsulate what makes this such a powerful film, and if you’ve seen an Egoyan film, you know why. Of course the characters and storyline are well crafted and groomed, but the manner in which all the elements come together and form this tapestry is hard to describe. The film is very gripping, but if you need non stop action and explosions to stay glued to a movie, then you’re better off with another film in this case. The pace is very slow at times and dialogue dominates the film, but I never found myself drifting off, because the words were so well written and key to the film. This isn’t a film that everyone will want to watch, but fans of literate, well crafted suspense flicks will have a lot to like with this release. I also think anyone who wants to test the waters with Egoyan’s style should start with this film, it’s his best work. Artisan has issued a spectacular package for this excellent film, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t rent or purchase this release.

This movie was directed and written for the screen by Atom Egoyan, with his screenplay being based on the novel by William Trevor. As with most of his films, Felicia’s Journey focuses on subtle character points and relationships, which I feel is a very good thing, one not too many movies do these days. The dialogue is also excellent, and although the pace may throw some viewers into a slumber, I love his cerebral approach to film. If you like this film, make sure you look into other Egoyan movies, such as Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, and The Adjuster. The lead role in this film is played by Bob Hoskins, who I feel is one of the most underrated actors in the business. His resume is filled with powerful performances, but I feel this is his strongest yet, which is really saying something, I assure you. Hoskins (The Long Good Friday, Brazil) plays the serial killer Hilditch with such controlled passion, it’s amazing at times. Others appearing in this movie include Elaine Cassidy (Disco Pigs), Peter McDonald (I Went Down, Some Voices), Sheila Reed (Zero Population Growth), and Egoyan regular Arsinee Khanjian (Last Night).

Video: How does it look?

Felicia’s Journey is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, which is one of Artisan’s finest looking visual presentations to date. This is a reference quality visual transfer, with both a pristine source print and a flawless digital conversion. The colors are sharp when appropriate and bland when needed, but always look as they were intended, and flesh tones are consistent and natural. Since this film has some subtle shadow works, I was doubtful about the transfer, but I was pleased to see well defined shadows and a very high degree of visible detail. I’ve watched this disc three times, and I’ve yet to find a problem with it.

Audio: How does it sound?

This release uses a Dolby Digital 5.1 track for audio, but this is a subdued film, so the main audio power comes from the soundtrack, and even then not much. That’s not to say this track is lacking, it’s not, but the film isn’t reliant upon audio, so the track remains in the weeds for the most part, as it should. The dialogue is the main focus here, aside from some excellent subtle surround use, and the vocals shine here, clear and crisp at all times.

Supplements: What are the extras?

While not labeled as a special edition, this title is jam packed with excellent bonus materials. This release contains two alternate audio tracks, one isolated musical score and one audio commentary track, which features director Atom Egoyan. The music is excellent in this film, and I am happy to see an isolated track for it included. The Egoyan commentary is outstanding to be sure, filled with a deft mixture of technical, behind the scenes, and just plain fun anecdotes. If you like the film, by all means make sure you give this commentary track a spin as well. Next you’ll find the videos Hilditch had made for all seven girls he befriended, which can be disturbing at times. The film gives a glimpse at these, but here you can view them in their own little world. The treated and untreated versions of Gala’s cooking show are also included, in a novel turn. You’ll also find two actual recipes used by the hostess in the film. Very cool stuff, even if you’re not a cook. A seven and a half minute featurette is present also, filled with interviews and film footage. You can view a series of interviews with Bob Hoskins, Elaine Cassidy, and Atom Egoyan as well, with each answering several questions about the film. Also on this disc are both Canadian and U.S. versions of the theatrical trailer and four television spots. Rounding out the disc are extensive talent files and production notes. Way to go, Artisan!

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