Picks and Pans Review: Exotica

updated 04/03/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/03/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Bruce Greenwood, Mia Kirshner, Elias Koteas

For the bulk of its 104-minute running time, 34-year-old Canadian director Atom Egoyan's sixth film is exasperatingly chilled-out, almost glacial. It's set in an upscale strip club with wrought-iron balconies and tasteful white lights; pasteurized music pulses across a cavernous space. All of this suggests a Eurotrash soiree staged in a first-class shopping mall. Exotica looks spanking clean, without the spanking, and its denizens—emcee (Koteas), dancer (Kirshner), customer (Greenwood)—have apparently all been instructed to deliver their flatly written dialogue with a deadening minimal effort. Ugh. But then, in a weird but memorably effective twist near the end, this affected anomie drops away, and the movie is flooded with a cold, regretful sadness. It's as if a Madonna video were transformed mid-grind into a Cheever short story. (R)

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