Film Review: Atom Egoyan's ‘Guest of Honour’ Starring Luke Wilson and David Thewlis
Updated: Jul 20, 2020
By Jalyn Mayer, July 9, 2020
Writer-director Atom Egoyan who is best known for his 1995 film, Exotica has returned to the screen for the first time in four years with Guest of Honour. The Canadian auteur showcases his signature theme, where memory and guilt are at the center of the plot as family drama unfolds between father and daughter.
We are first introduced to Veronica, played by Laysla De Oliveira, a young woman, plagued by a heinous act she committed in her teens. She falsely confesses to a crime she did not commit. Her father (played by David Thewlis) is a scorned former restaurateur who enacts revenge through his work later in life as an over zealous food inspector.
In the beginning, Veronica details her father’s life to a priest, played by Luke Wilson, to write her father’s eulogy for his funeral. Together they connect pieces of her father's life. Throughout this retelling, Veronica reveals and uncovers truths about her own past by confronting memories of her father’s infidelity and reflecting on a scandalous incident with her students that lands her in jail.
In contrast to her conservative appearance and soft tone, Veronica has recently been released from prison following a false charge. As she details her father’s life, the film cuts back and forth between interchanging timelines.
This non-linear structure gives the viewer great insight into the life of Veronica’s late father, Jim. When Veronica is young, everything is light. He is a restaurant owner with a young, healthy family to match. He has plans of opening in a new location and you can feel his radiance through the screen. However, Jim’s life quickly turns a corner around the time his daughter Veronica is sent to prison. No longer is he a budding restauranteur. Instead, his hollow days are filled with catching nitpicky safety violations and exercising his power in shutting down businesses. His wife has passed from an aggressive illness. His small, infrequent joys come from taking care of Veronica’s bunny and visiting her while incarcerated.
The real treat of the film is the incredible performance by David Thewlis. He mastered the mix of hurt, confusion, and protective fatherly instincts once his character discovered his own daughter falsely admitted to the crime that kept her imprisoned.
“Guest of Honour” is yet another jewel in Egoyan’s expansive crown. A gripping film filled with excellent performances, gorgeous visuals along with brilliant scoring. This film is a great choice for a quarantine Friday night.
BIG MAGAZINE OFFICIAL RATING: 4/5 Stars
With theaters closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘Guest of Honour’ will be released on July 10th in virtual cinemas supporting independent art houses. Click here to learn more and find a theater near you to support.
Photos and trailer by: Kino Lorber PR