Friday, November 27, 2009

Recommended Reading: Tom McSorley on The Adjuster

Clearing Up the Adjuster
By David Davidson

Atom Egoyan's: The Adjuster By Tom McSorley, 128 pp.,University of Toronto Press, $16.95.

Tom McSorley’s new book is a revealing examination of Atom Egoyan’s fourth feature The Adjuster (1991). McSorley describes The Adjuster as “a dark drama about the complex and intense relationships between an insurance adjuster and his clients”. As the executive director of the Canadian Film Institute in Ottawa, Tom McSorley ,in the last couple of years, has helped program screenings at the Library and Archives Canada of Atom Egoyan’s first and latest feature: Next of Kin (1984), and Adoration (2008). The Canadian Cinema series, published by the University of Toronto Press, goal is to “bring scholarly reflection on Canadian cinematic tradition and contemporary Canadian film”.

McSorley’s monograph on The Adjuster begins with a short history of Canadian cinema. The turning point is 1982 with the Capital Cost Allowance (CCA). This lead to the post-tax shelter generation of Canadian filmmakers who would spearhead a creative resurgence in national film. The Toronto Festival of Festivals - now more commonly known as the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) - emphasis on Canadian content (e.g., “The Northern Light”, “Perspective Canada”) was a launch pad for the Toronto New Wave filmmakers emerging work, with Atom Egoyan at the frontline. McSorley thematically connects The Adjuster with Egoyan’s first three films Next of Kin, Family Viewing (1987) and Speaking Parts (1989) emphasizing the formers continuity, its Cinemascope widescreen, and growing international attention. The analysis of the film is illuminating. Specifically its examination of the fire motif, Michelangelo Antonioni’s influence, the absurdist tradition, and finally pinpointing what exactly is the integral aspect of The Adjuster viewing experience. The quality of not knowing.

Tom McSorley’s monograph on The Adjuster came out in early September and feels really fresh with its references to Adoration that was just released this year. The book launch at the 2009 TIFF, programming of The Adjuster as part of the festivals “Open Vault” retrospective, and an upcoming film Chloe emphasize Atom Egoyan strong oeuvre that has consistently been getting more international attention and quality appraisals. If you have not yet seen The Adjuster, it is well worth seeing. If you want to better appreciate it and understand its role in the context of Canadian cinema, read this book.

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