Melissa Pierson
May 31, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Next of Kin

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Liam Neeson, Patrick Swayze, Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Michael J. Pollard, Ben Stiller
director
John Irvin
distributor
Warner Bros.
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller, ActionAdventure

We gave it a B+

What if we could choose our families, instead of being born into them? Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan gives a fresh and offbeat answer in Next of Kin, a first feature that suggests the best aspects of student films (a pointed attempt to make it different) while showing off Egoyan’s sophisticated storytelling talents.

Twenty-three-year-old Peter (Patrick Tierney), who still lives at home with his eternally bickering and overbearing parents, finally has enough and takes fate into his own hands, retrospectively speaking. He tells an Armenian family living in Toronto he is their long-lost son; that they believe and embrace him is not the movie’s only funny business. But the humor never gets too raucous, for Egoyan has laced his confection with the slightly bitter theme of the human alienation that results from over-technologizing — specifically, watching too many movies on video. Ironically, video is precisely where this little gem might find the audience it deserves.

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