"A meaningful payoff but feels as though it may never come."
Atom Egoyan's last full-fledged cinema effort was the underrated 1997 film THE SWEET HEREAFTER and with its meticulously written screenplay and superb acting it's a hard film to top. Egoyan's latest film FELICIA'S JOURNEY, produced by Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey's company Icon Pictures, though not without merit, lacks the heavy moral and climax that THE SWEET HEREAFTER embodied so brilliantly.Felicia (Elain Cassidy) is an Irish teenager in search of her boyfriend Johnny (Peter McDonald) who has left Ireland for the British Army. Months pass and without having an address to contact Johnny, naive Felicia heads to England to find her lover and tell him that she is pregnant with their child. Instead, Felicia comes across lonely Joseph Hilditch (Bob Hoskins in his most subtle yet compelling performance to date) who spots Felicia wandering the roads of England and offers her assistance in finding Johnny. Felicia accepts his offer only to find out later that there is much more to Joseph's good intentions.
As with THE SWEET HEREAFTER, writer/director Egoyan shoots each scene with delicacy as if each were a painted picture. This helps when Egoyan self-indulgently chooses to linger just a bit too long with his scenes. The slow-pacing of the film does become tiresome at times and a tendency to shout out "hurry up!" may come to mind on more than one occasion. Still, Egoyan's extraordinary way of building up his characters and then ever so slightly divulging their true identity is masterful. Careful as to what he shows his audience in the first and second acts, Egoyan slowly and purposefully eases his story along into its ever-so-carefully-plotted climax.Ultimately how much one may enjoy watching FELICIA'S JOURNEY will determine on how patient, at ease and how willing one is to sit through a film that does have a meaningful payoff but at times feels as though it may never come. ---Pamela Harland - iF Magazine (http://ifmagazine.ifctv.com)