Most filmmakers seem positively mystified by the notion that they're not able to accurately capture history, as if this weren't completely evident after Michael Bay took on "Pearl Harbor." Writer/Director Atom Egoyan attempts to explore the notion of the malleable nature of memory through one of cinema's least creative devices: the film within a film.
Really, isn't there some other way to do this? Pretty much every director who's finally making inroads into their philosophical nature comes up with the idea for some movie that has a movie being made within it so that they can say really profound things about the nature of filmmaking. You know what? I'm not interested in the nature of filmmaking and neither is anybody else.
Egoyan is trying to explore the curious situation of the Armenian genocide, which is a historical fact that Turkey has been denying to this day because it's the country that slaughtered all the Armenians. It happened in 1915. There are a bunch of different stories going on here. Raffi (David Alplay) is sleeping with his stepsister, Celia (Marie-Josee Croze). Celia has an issue with Raffi's mother, Ani (Arsineé Khanjian) because Celia's father (Ani's second husband) killed himself and she thinks Ani is responsible. Ani has just written an art book on the painter Gorky (Simon Abkarian) and is asked to consult on a movie about the Armenian genocide in which Gorky may be a character. Raffi goes to Turkey to do some filming and is then stopped at customs on the way back by David (Christopher Plummer) where Raffi recounts the story of the Armenian genocide.
Believe it or not, there's much more to this plot, which would just confuse you more. We watch the movie inside the movie, which sort of takes us back to 1915. What Egoyan is trying to do in the most difficult way possible is to show how memory and history don't mix very well. Ultimately, people believe what they want to believe or what they're told. Egoyan's entire movie is a lamentation of this fact, something I already knew.
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