Guest of Honour – Film Review
Director: Atom Egoyan
Writer: Atom Egoyan
Stars: David Thewlis, Luke Wilson, Laysla De Oliveira
Part of the Canada Now Film Festival
Veronica’s (Laysla De Oliveira) father Jim (David Thewlis) has died. She goes to talk to the priest, Father Greg (Luke Wilson), who is giving a eulogy about a man he did not know. After telling Father Greg about some of her father’s finer points, she lets slip that she has just been released from jail! Through a series of flashbacks, we get to meet Jim, who works as a food safety officer visiting restaurants and also see how this young woman ended up in prison.
This is a new film by Atom Egoyan, the Canadian film director known for such work as The Sweet Hereafter (1997) and Exotica (1994). He has somewhat dropped off the radar in recent years. While he has continued to work on films such as Remember (2015) and The Captive (2014), the releases have not received the critical praise or the box office success of his early work.
This film is not without its merits. It has two separate strands, one with Thewlis which hits many heights and one without that plods along, dragging its feet. The scenes with Thewlis going from restaurant to restaurant examing their kitchens and bathrooms are more than deserving of a film in their own right. Thewlis plays Jim as a quirky and bizarre character, a former restaurant owner turned informer. We long to hear more about his early years and why things turned sour. The sections with Laysla De Oliveira, on the other hand, fall flat. She plays a music teacher who makes a variety of bad decisions. The character doesn’t quite add up and her motivations remain unclear. Add to the mix the awkward scenes between herself and Luke Wilson (as Father Greg) and you’ll be left wondering what could have been. A curate’s egg of a film, if there ever was one!