Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Movie with Abe: Guest of Honour

Guest of Honour
Directed by Atom Egoyan
Released July 10, 2020 (Kino Marquee)

A person’s profession can shape their character, and their character may also influence the profession they choose. Today, most people will have a number of jobs and multiple careers, but there will still be those who select a path and stick with it throughout their entire working life. It’s impossible to fully separate a person’s personal life from their work, and as a result, they impart wisdom and perspectives gleaned from their business experiences. A child, when grown, forges their own trajectory, sometimes using what they’ve learned and deciding to purposely take an opposite approach.

Veronica (Laysla De Oliveira) comes to see Father Greg (Luke Wilson) to plan the funeral of her father, Jim (David Thewlis). She recounts their complicated relationship, which includes the death of her mother when she was young. When a jealous bus driver (Rossif Sutherland) shows an inappropriate interest in the high school music teacher, Veronica finds herself caught in a treacherous situation for which she believes she must be punished. Jim, who was always deeply committed to his work as a food inspector, begins showing up frequently at restaurants unannounced and ensuring that its operators are appropriately scared of the consequences as he tries to grapple with his daughter’s desire to remain behind bars when she knows she isn’t guilty.

The sequencing of this film makes it clear that Veronica’s questionable innocence is not the mystery at its center, but rather what Veronica has endured in her life that makes her feel like she must atone for something. Jim is never charming since, even at his most by-the-book, he is far from warm and rarely earns anything other than terrified appreciation from those he assures can remain in business. Veronica’s field, selected in part by her father thanks to childhood music lessons, is one that involves considerably more creativity, and also invites a passion that connects Veronica in a much more intimate and personal way with others, which can and does lead to potentially problematic implications.

Thewlis is an established British actor known for playing characters that aren’t usually likeable, and he brings depth and meaning to the role of Jim. De Oliveira, a Canadian actress best known for her TV work on “Locke and Key,” is the real standout, probing the many facets of Veronica and her somewhat unreadable nature. This film is just as much about two people and the lives they lived together as it is about the ones they lived apart, and the layers it peels back during this introspective journey are continually intriguing and rewarding.


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