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Felicia's Journey: cinematic disappointment and the construction of memory - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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November 13th, 2006

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02:32 pm - Felicia's Journey: cinematic disappointment and the construction of memory
Yesterday teaotter and I watched the Atom Egoyan film Felicia's Journey. We both saw it when it came out in 2000 and loved it, being impressed at how much of a new take it gave to the serial killer and victim set-up and how generally unique and innovative it was. Rewatching it was a vast disappointment for both of us. While some part of this might be due to the difference between watching a movie in a theater and on a TV, much of it was due to the film itself. It seemed overly long and tedious and more importantly it was far less innovative than either of us remembered, with Bob Hoskins giving a portrayal of the killer that was impressively reminiscent of various similar characters in Hitchcock films.

I am far from certain about what inspired this change of feeling, but I think part of it may have been the simple act of watching the film for a second time. One thing that was clear about this film is that it is impressively incomplete – we lack obvious (or even understated) motives for many of the characters' actions and in discussing the film with Becca after seeing it a second time both of us remembered certain scenes differently from how they were shown in the tape we watched. We first assumed that we had watched a different cut of the film the first time, but after further discussion we each remembered different scenes being different. My best guess is that the very incompleteness of this film allowed up to construct meaning to fill these gaps, which naturally changed our memories of various details of the film so as to better fit these constructed meanings – a process not unlike how we each construct meaning in our lives. However, upon a second viewing the differences between the remembered scenes and the actual scenes became clear and so the much of the constructed meaning collapsed.

Amidst my disappointment about the film, I am now curious about the fascinating social consequences of the increased use of video-blogging and the likely spread of the occasional efforts at people recording their lives on wireless webcams. The disconnection between rewatched events and constructed memories (and all memories are constructs) could be quite impressive and disturbing. In any case, while there is some truly excellent acting and some impressive cinematography in Felicia's Journey, my previously unqualified recommendation has now been replaced by this more dubious review.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

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