In Atom Egoyan’s world, past and present intermingle, memories intrude, and family secrets emerge like a sunken object bobbing to the surface of a lake. But it’s not simply the guilty party who’s incriminated: it’s all of us watching. Egoyan delivers that shiver of recognition time after time.
His most recent film, Guest of Honour, premiered in Venice before playing to enthusiastic hometown audiences at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. David Thewlis — so brilliant in Mike Leigh’s Naked, his 1993 breakout performance — here plays a restaurant health inspector trying to help his daughter, who has been convicted of a crime. As she resists his efforts, he throws his frustration into his work, opening up layers of their complex relationship over time.
The mystery in Guest of Honour isn’t just a puzzle to be deciphered, but a map of human interaction. It’s what Egoyan has always done best. As in his acclaimed films from the ’90s — The Adjuster (1991), Exotica (1994), and the Academy Award–nominated The Sweet Hereafter (1997) — a man simply doing his job becomes both investigator and participant in a thicket of secrets and lies. Calendar (1993) has Egoyan himself playing the investigator.
Similar to those procedural professions, there’s another job that calls for intruding on and exploring people’s lives: filmmaker. Watching an Egoyan film is to be drawn into a dance of close observation. His films use a polyphonic, musical structure to invite us to that dance, layering deep emotion and sly, dry humour to create an impact with the clarity of a mirror.
We’re pleased to offer Guest of Honour alongside three earlier Egoyan films — The Adjuster, Calendar, and The Sweet Hereafter — that illuminate the talent and obsessions of this remarkable Canadian artist.
Artistic Director & Co-Head, TIFF