TORONTO FESTIVAL REVIEW: Bob Hoskins Shines in Egoyan's "Journey"
by David Bourgeois
Bob Hoskins delivers a major breakout performance with his role as
Joseph Hilditch, a reclusive bachelor living in small-town England who’s
unable to overcomea loveless childhood and crushing loneliness. His
famous mother, Gaga (Arsinee Khanjian), was a 1950’s chef — the Julia
Child of her day — who wrote numerous cook books and had her own
television program, but had little time for her son.
Life today seems calm and serene for Hilditch, a catering supervisor who
loves his employees and lives a seemingly simple life. Although set in
the present, he is hopelessly stuck in the 1950s; his house is filled
with antiques from the period, he watches and bakes along with his
mother’s television show on an old television, and he drives a stately,
vintage, British roadster.
While he leaves the supermarket one day, a bewildered, winsome girl,
Felicia (Elaine Cassidy), asks him for directions. The girl has left her
native Ireland in search of her errant boyfriend Johnny (Peter
McDonald), who is believed to have left Ireland to join the British
army. She’s carrying his baby, making her particularly vulnerable and in
need of guidance and a kind ear.
Hilditch first betrays Felicia’s trust by stealing her money, and thus
the web of deception is laid. Slowly, more and more
disturbing information unfolds and — in one of the most unoriginal
parts of the film — we learn that he has a collection of videotapes of
about a half-dozen girls he’s lured in before.
Throughout the entire film, it’s Hoskins’ haunting performance that
keeps the story from becoming just another sex, lies and videotape kind
of film about a man who can’t come to grips with his sexual frustration
and dysfunction. Hilditch brazenly spouts one lie after another, but
because of Hoskins’ extraordinary acting control, we actually forget for
a moment that he’s a liar; we, too, get sucked in to believing him.
Even though “Felicia’s Journey” is not quite as strong as “The Sweet
Hereafter,” Egoyan’s history and proven track record, coupled with one
of the best performances of the year, make it worthwhile.