Runtime: 1 hr 50 min
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Atom Egoyan
Starring: Simon Abkarian, Charles Aznavour, Christopher Plummer, Arsinée Khanjian, Setta Keshishian, David Alpay, Shant Srabian
Should have a greater impact than it does.
Review by: MiamiMovieCritic
Added: 8 years ago
Ararat tells an important, compelling story, but I’m not sure Atom Egoyan was the right filmmaker to tell it. The tragedy and horror of the Armenian Genocide provides more than enough material for a great film, but Egoyan has messed around with it, bringing his own artistic impulses to the table. The result is a movie that should have a greater impact than it does.
Egoyan’s biggest mistake is to frame the story as a movie-within-a-movie, so all the parts where Turkish soldiers are torturing, raping and slaughtering Armenian civilians are presented as scenes from a Hollywood epic. In other words, these depictions are NOT REAL. This would seem to run counter to the film’s modus operandi, which is to refute the Turkish government’s outrageous and shameful claims that the genocide never took place.
The central drama involves the son of an art historian (David Alpay) being interviewed by a customs agent. These scenes are very well acted and written, but I’m at a complete loss as to why Egoyan explores the personal lives of these characters. The suspect is having an incestuous affair with his stepsister – a theme that was central to The Sweet Hereafter but seems pretty arbitrary here. And the customs agent is unwilling to accept his son’s homosexuality – which is wrong, but I’m not sure it’s a very good metaphor for the kind of mass death and pure hatred that the Armenian Genocide represents. Egoyan makes movies that are mysteries and jigsaw puzzles, but sometimes his intentions are also a bit puzzling.