Can you tell me where the lawnmower factory is?

The action starts slow as the credits roll, with oldies music playing as we look at a dated home with a large number of collectibles, finally revealing Bob Hoskins busy at cooking, cribbing off a television show.

Felicia's Journey is not your typical kinapper/serial killer film. I am reminded of the old Terrence Stamp film, The Collector, from the 70s, where our evildoer is similarly nice and polite... to a degree. But really, this film is more of an art house take on the genre.

Your typical movie of this kind is spending all kind of time trying to creep the audience out about how evil or sadistic our perpetrator is. Felicia's Journey ventures outside this box and presents us with more ordinary details of character. Bob Hoskins' character - Joeseph Hilditch - is the son of the old french TV chef, and apparently hasn't been quite right in the head since appearing on the show in his youth.

Young Felicia is pregnant by her boyfriend, who left Ireland to find work in England. Felicia has come over to locate him and announce this news, amid much disapproval at home.

The film ever so slowly builds up to its inevitable climax. Joeseph ever so subtlely manipulating Felicia closer to his trust. There are some unusual turns along the way, demonstrating Joeseph's absolute patience and Felicia's earnest naiveté. Overall, it's an exploration of character that pays off well.

I must confess I've not quite figured out Joeseph's job here. He's some kind of head food service worker at a factory or some such, and is very serious about it. Is it important? Not really. In fact, you can take it that the film is making a point about his fastidiousness and that his actual employment doesn't matter so much as how he is when he's doing it. He calls himself a "catering manager" late in the film, but it's already beside the point.

Hoskins delivers a tremendously balanced and restrained performance. It's not the sort of flamboyant job that draws so much attention as Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter, but this is the same caliber of acting. Elaine Cassidy's Felicia covers the bases, but for a story that is really hers, doesn't have enough opportunity to stretch out.

Atom Egoyan spends much time setting up these exquisite tracking shots. One in particular is a wonder of framing and timing, moving our attention along casually, with barely any prodding, from one piece of scenic activity to the next. Lovely.

Felicia's Journey is an adaptation from a novel, and while I'm not familiar with the source material, I feel it stands on its own pretty well. Knowing its source, I feel we've missed out on some themes, but there's no real impact on how enjoyable the film is. This is a stellar effort and well worth seeing.

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