In 1915, Turkey began what many consider a genocide of the Armenian people. The Armenians were Turkish citizens, and worse, Turkey still denies that much of this even happened. Acclaimed writer/director Atom Egoyan (Felicia's Journey, Diaspora) is of Armenian descent, and Ararat is his wake-up call to the world, a movie about making a movie about the Armenian genocide. It is multifaceted, complex, and dense, and unfortunately, not a great way to educate the world about what happened. There are multiple stories happening on multiple levels, most of them connected somehow to Edward Saroyan (Charles Aznavour, The Truth About Charlie, Laguna), who is like a cipher for Egoyan. He is directing a movie based on Arshile Gorky (Simon Abkarian, The Truth About Charlie, Lila Lili) an Armenian artist who survived the Turkish holocaust.
Saroyan is Turkish, and wants the world to know what happened. He believes it is important they know, and that they don't forget. His lead actor (Bruce Greenwood, Swept Away, Below) is playing an American doctor in Turkey, and is learning everything he can about the time. Another actor (Elias Koteas, Simone, Collateral Damage) is of Turkish descent, and unknowingly falls into some of the stereotypes of the uninformed. Ani (Arsinee Khanjian, Fat Girl, Code Unknown) is a Gorky scholar Saroyan hired to aid in the historical accuracy of the picture. Her son Raffi (David Alpay) is the emotional center of the story. He is personally coming to terms with what these historical events mean to him in today's world, and how it affects who he is as a person. Much of the movie takes place in an airport, where David (Christopher Plummer, A Beautiful Mind, Lucky Break) stops him at customs. David wants to know the story behind the canisters of film Raffi has from Turkey, where he claims he went to shoot background shots for Saroyan's film.
There are other characters, and Egoyan makes sure that each person has his/her own say and own little story, and this is not necessarily a good thing. With the large number of characters, individual themes become muddled. Egoyan often shifts perspective from the present to the past, and constantly has his characters railing about the importance of revealing the truth. The only problem is that Ararat never quite clearly presents the events that happened in Turkey. Egoyan eventually reveals a lot, but often in a confusing manner. In a way, he succumbs to some of the same criticisms he is making in the film. His characters do have a passion for what they believe, but sometimes it comes at the cost of believability. They know that what they believe is right, and if somebody disagrees then they are obviously wrong. Because of the length and the slow pace, it's also easy to get bored at times. Egoyan has some lofty goals, but is not quite able to reach them with Ararat.
|Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.|
|1 hour, 56 minutes, Rated R for violence, sexuality/nudity, and language.|
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