Atom Egoyan's 'The Adjuster'

Atom Egoyan's 'The Adjuster'

TOM McSORLEY
Series: Canadian Cinema
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 128
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442686663
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  • Book Info
    Atom Egoyan's 'The Adjuster'
    Book Description:

    Tom McSorley traces the genesis, production, and reception of Egoyan's fourth feature film, from its Cannes Film Festival premiere to its North American commercial release.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8666-3
    Subjects: Film Studies, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-2)
  3. Introduction: Intimate Distance
    (pp. 3-8)

    The Adjusteris a film born in flames. Both inside and outside its impressive widescreen cinemascope frames, it is a cinematic phoenix rising from the ashes of real and metaphorical apocalyptic fires. Indeed, fire is the genesis of the film itself, as the concept forThe Adjusteroriginates in a devastating, and apparently random, act of arson in Victoria, B.C. On New Year’s Eve 1989 Atom Egoyan’s parents’ furniture store and home burned to the ground. During this time of crisis, Egoyan was intrigued by the insurance adjuster working on their case. More than simply processing the claim, the adjuster...

  4. 1 Welcome to Canada
    (pp. 9-18)

    Both Atom Egoyan and Noah Render travelled great distances to get to Canadian screens. Born in 1960 in Cairo, Egoyan himself came with his Armenian family via Egypt to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1963; Egoyan the filmmaker and his protagonist, across vast and barren landscapes of ambivalence towards the very idea of a Canadian cinema. There are historical and geopolitical sources for this ambivalence that are worth underlining briefly. Noted Canadian film scholar Peter Harcourt’s famous and still relevant phrase bears mentioning as a way of framing this journey. His telling observation that ‘Canadian cinema is an invisible cinema, because...

  5. 2 Out of the Ashes
    (pp. 19-26)

    Broadly speaking, when the Egoyan family arrived in Canada the early 1960s, it was a very different place, demographically, socially, and especially politically. The vibrant, thriving multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and post-colonial society that Canada would become was still a few decades away. Indeed, in terms of its political evolution and consciousness, notwithstanding the Centennial year of 1967 and all of the attendant nationalist sentiment expressed at that time, Canada remained, for all intents and purposes, a colonial property of the United Kingdom. The Canadian constitution, for example, was controlled ultimately by faraway London; no amendment to the constitution could be executed...

  6. 3 Before the Fire
    (pp. 27-40)

    Consider for a moment the narrative structures, thematic concerns, and philosophical questions posed by Egoyan’s three feature films beforeThe Adjuster. All three are set within the intense and idiosyncratic dynamics of ‘the family’; all three explore technology in these families and how it functions as an agent of memory and identity; all three incorporate passages shot on video and woven into the filmed sequences; all three revolve around benumbed, ambivalent, remote male protagonists lost in dubious quests for self-affirmation in their lonely lives; all three examine and develop the notion, which is elaborated further still inThe Adjuster, that...

  7. 4 The Adjuster: Labyrinths of Solitude
    (pp. 41-74)

    If the combination of alienation, isolation and impeded intimacy are increasingly becoming the narrative fuel in his first three films, then that troubling, mysterious admixture is the very engine drivingThe Adjuster. Egoyan’s fourth feature, made on a budget of approximately $1.5 million, roughly double that ofSpeaking Parts, weaves these ideas together so thoroughly in the spaces between the characters and audience that the film itself verges on disappearing entirely into its cryptic dialogue snatches, its pregnant pauses, its silences, and the vast surfaces of its cinemascope images. There is so much disturbed psychological terrain here and so many...

  8. 5 Arrivals
    (pp. 75-82)

    It is a measure of the critical and international festival success of Egoyan’s first three features that, even beforeThe Adjusterwas fully completed, two sections of the prestigious Cannes film festival were inviting the film to be in one of their official selections at the 1991 edition. The programming heads of both the Un certain regard and Quinzaine des realisateurs sections asked Egoyan to place his film in their respective sections of the festival. By now very experienced (Speaking Partswas at Cannes in 1989) and very savvy in the game of positioning a film in the appropriate section...

  9. 6 Departures
    (pp. 83-91)

    In many ways, he never did. Atom Egoyan’s film career afterThe Adjusteris marked by increasingly larger budgets (with certain exceptions, such asCalendarin 1993 andCitadelin 2004); more industrialized production models involving larger crews and a markedly less familial working environment; and more participation in international production, distribution, and star systems. While his subsequent work retains an aesthetic rigour, familiar thematic preoccupations, and his signature style, it also presents fictional worlds and characters more accessible, knowable, and, as he puts it, ‘grounded in some recognizable reality.’³ Looking back atThe Adjusteralmost two decades later, Egoyan...

  10. Production Credits
    (pp. 92-94)
  11. Further Viewing
    (pp. 95-95)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 96-101)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 102-104)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 105-105)