Felicia's Journey

Felicia's Journey is Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan's new movie, based on William Trevor's 1994 book of the same name. Egoyan's previous films include Exotica and 1997's The Sweet Hereafter, which shares some characteristics with his new movie. Egoyan's films are slow moving, thoughtful ruminations on some of the darker aspects of human nature. Felicia (Elaine Cassidy, The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars) is a young Irish woman who goes to England in search of her boyfriend Johnny. Felicia's father, who does not approve of the relationship, tells her that her boyfriend joined the English army. Johnny's mother refuses to relay Felicia's letters to him, and Felicia has no address for him. Convinced that Johnny loves her, despite everything to the contrary, she runs away in search of him.

In England, Joseph Hildritch (Bob Hoskins, TwentyFourSeven, Cousin Bette) manages the catering in a large factory. He meets Felicia, who is looking for a lawnmower factory where Johnny could work. Their first couple meetings are chance, but Joseph slowly begins to insinuate himself into Felicia's life. He offers his home as a place to stay, and his services in helping to locate Johnny. To gain her trust, he tells her that his wife Ada is in the hospital dying. In truth, he has no wife. He lives at home alone, and spends much of his time watching old recordings of cooking shows. While the search for Johnny progresses, there are constant flashbacks to the lives of both Joseph and Felicia. These serve to flesh out the characters, detailing their motivations. Felicia is very naive. Her continual belief that Johnny loves her stems from his declaration of love to her before her left. Most likely it was just something boys say to impress girls. Joseph, on the other hand, has, shall we say, major problems. Hoskins is both normal and extremely creepy at the same time. As his back-story becomes known to the viewer, Felicia's future becomes increasingly uncertain.

Hoskins and Cassidy both give excellent performances. Hoskins in particular exudes pure evil. His manipulations of Felicia are extremely cruel. The level of terror increases dramatically as the movie progresses, though the level of action remains unnaturally calm. Egoyan sends both characters on journeys, both mental and physical. Felicia's is looking for Johnny, but also, in a way, looking for herself. Joseph is on a different kind of journey, a much darker one. The only bad thing about this movie was its portrayal of some Christian missionaries. They are stereotyped as overfriendly and hyperactive, though the portrayal served as a crucial point in the plot. However, this should not detract from the overall power of Felicia's Journey, which, though slow moving at points, is another powerful movie from Egoyan.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad
1 hour, 56 minutes, Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements and related disturbing images.

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