Guest of Honour (2019)

Guest of Honour
Director: Atom Egoyan
Writer: Atom Egoyan
Cast: David Thewlis, Laysla De Oliveira, Luke Wilson, Rossif Sutherland, Tennille Read, Gage Munroe, Arsinée Khanjian, Alexandre Bourgeois
Seen on: 18.8.2020

Jim (David Thewlis) was an health inspector, diligently working and taking care of his daughter Veronica’s (Laysla De Oliveira) pet rabbit. Veronica was in prison, even though she didn’t do it, and her insistence on remaining in prison threw Jim for a loop. Now he just passed away and Veronica is meeting with Father Greg (Luke Wilson) to discuss funeral arrangements. As she tries to explain her father, their relationship and her own decisions to the Father, she rethinks everything herself.

Guest of Honor has good moments and strong performances, but it is also too convoluted and frankly a little boring.

The film poster showing Jim (David Thewlis) stroking a white rabbit.

Here’s what I loved about Guest of Honour: I loved that Veronica works as a conductor and writes her own classical muic – we don’t get to see women in that capacity very often. The music they chose for her was also really great and De Oliveira was wonderful. Generally, the casting was amazing (I probably wouldn’t have thought of Luke Wilson for a priest, but he nails it) and probably the best thing about the film.

I also really liked the look at Jim’s job as a food inspector and the way he is shown to be a stickler for rules, but not without compassion. Much too often, these two things are thought to be mutually exclusive, when they’re not. So, there really are many good things here in the film.

Veronica (Laysla De Oliveira) conducting at a concert.

The trouble starts when we come to the story. Not only is Veronica’s self-flagellating less interesting than the film seems to think, I didn’t understand her decision to resolve the the situation that was a trigger for the entire thing with a prank instead of through official channels. Especially since a clear breach of the rules occured. A sexually explicit message was sent to a minor, it just wasn’t Veronica.

And then there are just too many turns and subplots and knots in the story. It made me want to untangle things, but not in a “this is interesting, let me look at it more closely to figure things out” way and rather in a “this is a mess, throw it all out and start over again” way. And in the end, this is the impression that remained of the film.

Jim (David Thewlis) holding out a rabbit's foot on a keychain.

Summarizing: doesn’t really work.

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