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With: Bob Hoskins, Arsinée Khanjian, Elaine Cassidy, Sheila Reid
Written by: Atom Egoyan, based on a novel by William Trevor
Directed by: Atom Egoyan
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic elements and related disturbing images
Running Time: 116
Date: 17/05/1999

Felicia's Journey (1999)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Cooking Something Up

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) brings his brand of the sinister simmering just under a chilly surface to Felicia's Journey. Adapted from the 1994 novel by William Trevor, Felicia's Journey stars newcomer Elaine Cassidy as 17-year-old pregnant Felicia, who has been thrown out of her house and is rescued by Hilditch (Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit). A master chef in a factory who watches tapes of his dead mother's old cooking show, Hilditch helps Felicia try to find her boyfriend, a soldier in the British army.

Hilditch seems kind and cheerful, but something horrible lives inside him. Egoyan is very good at keeping Hoskins from leering into the camera, or playing ominous music on the soundtrack. He holds back from letting the evil burn onscreen in any way. He lets it creep up on us, so slowly that Felicia's Journey doesn't even feel like a "thriller." By the time we realize something terrible is happening we're so involved in the characters' lives that it doesn't feel like a cheat or the sudden solution to a puzzle. It feels like a natural extension of the characters.

I kept thinking about how Hitchcock may have done this movie. It certainly would have been more suspenseful, but I think it may have lacked the delicious chilliness that this movie possesses. It took awhile to sink in, but I liked Felicia's Journey very much. It's subtle filmmaking of the kind that we're not used to. But those who give it a chance will surely find something unusual rubbing off on them.

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