Canada, 1991, 102 minutes, Colour.
Elias Koteas, Arsinee Khanjian, Maury Chaykin.
Directed by Atom Egoyan.
The Adjuster is the fourth feature film by Canadian writer- director Atom Egoyan. His previous films were Family Viewing, Speaking Parts. Each of the films is idiosyncratic, presenting a closed in world of individuals and families who do not function well and who have to cope with neurosis, sexual drives, criticisms of their life style.
Egoyan is also interested in television, video and media. In his films, people eaves drop (or eye drop) on one another through the modern media. It also moves from realism to dreams, fantasises and imaginings.
This film has bigger production values than his previous films. Cinemascope photography, Elias Koteas and Maury Chaykin leading a more professional cast that usual.
The locations of the film are also eccentric - a mansion set in the middle of a building development (and taken over by a millionaire and his girlfriend for eccentric film making); the subway of the city, the census office and theatrette for censoring pornographic movies, a motel where, victims of fire are housed by the insurance company. The characters move within this world, comfortable, uncomfortable, clashing with each other - driven and seeking.
1. The work of Atom Egoyan, his interest in dysfunctional people and groups? Drives, confusions and crises? Fantasy and reality?
2. The Canadian backgrounds, the city? Perspectives? A sense of place and mood?
3. The polished style, gloss? Reality and fantasy? Cinema - visuals, audio? The background of pornography - and its intrusion into real life?
4. The title of the film? Its reference to Noah as an adjuster, working for the insurance company and adjusting claims? The night and the opening, his restlessness, his wife's nightmares? On the job, phoning from the car, disturbing her? His earnestness in helping people? Arianne and the fire, the accommodation in the motel, the sexual attraction? Tix and Lorraine and their loss, Tix and his drinking his tribute to Noah? The affair with Lorraine and deceiving Tix? And the champagne to celebrate their getting their claim? A sympathetic man, listening to people – yet repeating the same words over and over to each client? The sexual exploitation? The passing of time, involved in his job? The tribute from Louise the maid - as if he were a saint? The boss of the motel and his tribute, gladly giving accommodation to Noah and his family? His relationship with Hera? His son - playing with him? Hera's sister and her silent presence in the house? His odd behaviour - firing the arrows at the window, on to the bill board? Bubba and his arrival, the discussion with Noah, the moving out of the house, the agreement? The affect of Bubba's presence? The motel? The homosexuals and their claim, the photographs, his attraction towards them? The interviews? His sexual experience? The return home - and Bubba lighting the fire, the destruction of his house? What was real, what was fantasy?
5. Hera, her relationship with her husband? The migrant background, the presence of her sister looking after the child? On the train, seeing Bubba and the woman and their role play? Her bewilderment - the pornographic touch? at the theatrette, attraction of watching pornography? Videoing the clips, her explanations? her sister, her sister understanding her work? At home, her dreams? Moving out to the motel? not wanting to lose the position? The effect of the clash at the censorship office, the boss - and her disarming him with her explanation? The young man and his spying on her? The burning of the house - the future with Noah?
6. Bubba and his girlfriend on the train, the theatrical performance, being sick, her sexual innuendos? The football team and the line-up of the team - and the sexy photos The curiosity about the house, driving out, surveillance? The bargain, the house and the lighting of the fire? comment on wealth and the ability to do what one likes?
7. The censors, the people watching the film? The audio of the pornography? The interview - getting all the sections correct? Reporting Hera to the boss? His insinuating himself into the office? The censor and his reading Hera, his explanations of impulses and being affected by the material?
8. Lorraine, the background of the fire, in the motel, Tix and his desperation, their gratitude towards Noah, Lorraine and the affair? The discussions and the champagne? Arianne and her relationship with Noah? The homosexuals?
9. The motel, kept in business by the victims of fire? Louise and her work, admiration for Noah? The motel manager and his praise of Noah?
10. The fires, the experience of loss, going back over the houses, the lists of property, the insurance policy, Noah and adjustment?
11. The continual moving between reality and fantasy? What was real? What symbolic exploration of human drives? The comment on contemporary society, relationships and commitment, exploitation? The role of the media and media as symbol of dysfunction and exploitation?