Simon lives with his uncle in a Toronto suburb. His maternal grandfather, a racist, has told him that his Palestinian father had deliberately killed his mother, and himself, in a car crash. At school, he has a creative writing assignment to retell a newspaper story about a man who plants a bomb on his fiancée, who is flying to Israel. He retells it, very convincingly, as if it’s about his own mother and father.
His story then appears on the web, as a true story, which draws in people who survived an actual attempted bombing. (Director Egoyan cites a 1986 attempt to bomb an El Al airliner.) His teacher is sacked for setting the exercise, but she has a tie with Simon that she’s never revealed – she was once married to his father.
Like all of Egoyan’s films, it gets intricate, and at points may seem tricksy, but it’s well worth staying with. It’s about how far we know and trust others, and how other people make us who we are, partly through the stories we hear. The grandfather, who hardly appears, is at the fulcrum of the lives of all the main characters. It’s a thoroughly involving, grown-up film.
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