Egoyan's oblique, layered attack ultimately pays off, evoking a strong emotional connection between past and present, the historical and the personal, in a flowing, cinematic manner in collaboration with his frequent cameraman, Paul Sarossy. The film makes use of an intoxicating array of Armenian music.
Whatever the reason, the characters often seem only half-formed and there's a strange artificiality about the entire endeavor. Egoyan has never been a realist, and his style has contributed to his ability to deliver a knockout punch. Here, that punch is missing.
If the movie feels cumbersome and overstuffed, it's because Egoyan's characters, so often aphasic, are this time driven by a compulsion to speak -- though the noisy tumble of words mostly underscores their failure to communicate.
Egoyan is one of Canada's most ambitious and original filmmakers, but the power of this intricate drama falls short of its aspirations, despite his personal investment in the subject, since he is of Armenian ancestry himself.