Film review by: Witney Seibold


            How do you find out the truth? And how important is that truth, if you are inspired by lies? Atom Egoyan’s film “Ararat” poses that the truth is what we tell one another, and yet is solid and unchangeable. It’s a beautiful, poetic film that not only gives important yet historically overlooked details of the Armenian genocide of 1915 (a genocide still denied by the Turkish government), but displays a rare kind of emotional honesty through rich and struggling ensemble of characters.
            Stay with me: Raffi (David Alpay) is dating his French-Canadian ex-stepsister (Marie-Josée Croze) to the chagrin of his mother (Arsinée Khanjian). She is a scholar on Armenian painter Arshile Gorky (played in flashbacks by Simon Abkarian). She has also been hired by director Edward Saroyan (French crooner Charles Aznavour) to be a consultant on the making of a film about the Armenian genocide. The making of this film touches everyone involved, even Gorky himself. Actors (Bruce Greenwood and Elias Koteas) are respectively enriched and made belligerent. The director feels that this story needs to reach people after a frustratingly lasting silence.


            Raffi is hired on as an assistant, and what he witnesses causes him to investigate his own Armenian heritage in Turkey, and solve the more intimate mystery of his father’s death. He must tell his story to a skeptical yet weathered and intensely involved customs official (Christopher Plummer). As each person learns more of the story, more of the truth, they grow, they change. Even if what they hear may not be the absolute truth, they have passion about it.
            I know these are broad terms, but this film deals with large and important ideas. Plus the details are so plentiful, describing them all would take far too long. Canadian director Egoyan is a master worker who is able to start with a small event that seems neutral or flat (the bus crash in “The Sweet Hereafter,” the breakup in “Felicia’s Journey”), and dig through it until he finds a deep human truth. In Ararat, he digs deeper, and discovers more truths than in any of his previous films.

Published in: on May 4, 2009 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

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