New Internationalist


January 2010

Written, produced and directed by Atom Egoyan

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.


This column was published in the January 2010 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 429

New Internationalist Magazine issue 429
Issue 429

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New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

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– Emma Thompson –

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