WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Simon (Devon Bostick), a high school student, gets a French translation assignment of a real news story from 1986 about a terrorist who sends his pregnant girlfriend on El Al flight bound to Israel with a bomb in her suitcase, without her knowledge.
The story has a profound effect on Simon. In the course of the translation, he starts re imagining himself to be the son of the terrorist. Years ago, his Lebanese father (Noam Jenkins) crashed the family car, killing himself and his wife (Rachel Blanchard). Simon was convinced by his racist grandfather (Kenneth Welsh) that the accident was intentional.
In spite of knowing the falsity of Simon’s yarn, his teacher, Sabine (Arsinee Khannjian) mysteriously encourages him to pursue it. He reads it to the class and then takes it to the Internet, where it sparks heated arguments in the online chatting rooms.
Simon’s uncle (Scott Speedman), who raised him after his parents were gone, is not pleased by Simon’s new fantasy, and eventually a clash with Sabine reveals new secrets, that helps Simon overcome his anxieties over his father’s culpability in killing his mother.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
This is another movie where Atom Egoyan is trying to explore the effect of technology on changing our lives and shaping our views of the world around us. The impetus of the story this time is a political event that is bound to ignite heated debates, and it does on the web chat rooms, where dozens of chatters chip in to cough out their perspectives on terrorism, heroism, martyrdom, religion and family values. In fact, the dialogues for those scenes were not scripted, except Simon’s. Egoyan let the chatters express their thoughts as they wished, which lent the scenes a great sense of reality.
The film, however, is truly about love, loss and a yearning to find the truth about oneself and their loved ones. Imaging himself as a character in a political event and then using the Internet to share it with the world was Simon’s own catharsis. The story that he hijacked as his was compelling enough to attract people’s attention and make them listen to him, and consequently allowing him to delve deep into his own dark and tormenting thoughts and articulates them to the world. He was actually trying to find a truth by telling a lie.
Egoyan weaves in and out of reality and uses fragmented structures, multiple times frames and point views in executing this movie. The story of the parents is told as Simon’s figments of imagination, always loving and caring for each other: once as a terrorist and his pregnant girlfriend and once as a luthier and a violinist. Long lenses were utilised to reflect the imagined, dreamlike nature of their story and enhance the romance and affection between them.
The film feels more intellectual than dramatic. In fact, the background story of a terrorist condemning his girlfriend and unborn child to death, which is used only as a trigger to the principle drama is far more interesting, thought provoking and compelling, and as a result Simon’s real story, when it’s revealed, and its climax felt mundane and boring.