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TIFF 2023 Review: Seven Veils – “The story at times becomes extremely unsettling”

While remounting and directing the Canadian Opera Company production of Salome in honour of her mentor, Jeanine faces her own personal demons that in part inspired the original production.

At a press conference it is announce that Jeanine will be directing a new production of Salome because of a request made by her later mentor.  The usual politics unfold as alterations are made that displeases the widow and a sexual assault caused by the male lead that leads to a case of blackmail.   Not all of the drama is contained to the stage as there is the domestic case of a nurse looking after Jeanine’s mother having an affair with her estranged husband as well as the lingering past trauma caused by the two father figures in her life that are amplified by the restaging of the opera.

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There is eclectic mix of cinema, opera and home movies that has been brought together into a cohesive whole as they are designed to reflect the mental state of Jeanine; her narration certainly dives the mental depths along with the score which delves into musical discord at highly emotional moments.  The dialogue given to Amanda Seyfried certainly sounds like something a director would say during rehearsals.  And by having prop master Clea doing a behind the scenes video that showcases the creation of the centrepiece of the production, a severed head, the exposition is deftly handled for the uninitiated.

Standout performances are Amanda Seyfried who can do so much with her eyes and the cast member driving a significant subplot Rebecca Liddiard as she comes across as well-meaning but misguided.  By shifting between the worlds of opera and cinema, Atom Egoyan is able to create hybrid of the two.  The shadow puppet-like performances involving a sheet and projections dealing with a forest and ballerina figurines is quite dramatic.  The home videos are down right creepy as it hard to image a father directing his daughter in such a bizarre manner.  Even the subject matter of the opera itself is disturbing as it deals with a severed head, gang rape, and suicide.  But then to add on top of that the revelation of Jeanine being groomed and sexually abused, the story at times becomes extremely unsettling.

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7-17, 2023, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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