Family Viewing ★★★

59/100

Surely the strangest film ever made about elder care. Looks more like Next of Kin than like Speaking Parts to me now, which is to say that Egoyan hadn't yet figured out how to sustain a hypnotic narrative context for his thematic obsessions; you can feel the air leaking out right around the time that the bodies get switched, which is just too much present-tense plot for what's fundamentally a formal experiment exploring the ontological differences between celluloid and video. Soap-opera cutting on dialogue in the latter sequences is masterful (i.e. productively clumsy), especially when combined with the deliberately stilted delivery that Egoyan then favored. And look at that opening shot, which is the entire movie in microcosm: trays removed on the right to reveal the TV set (eternally set to a nature channel); trays removed on the left to reveal the protagonist (facing his grandmother, though we don't yet know that); Danna's combination of anxious drums and soothing chimes playing underneath. Family Viewing is mesmerizing so long as it's mysterious, and Egoyan would quickly learn not to foreground his intentions the way he eventually and almost ruinously does here.