Ararat (2002) - Synopsis

Ararat (2002) - Synopsis ImageArarat is a contemporary story of two estranged families and their search for reconciliation and truth. It is also a historical reenactment (a film within a film) being made by a famous Armenian director, Edward Saroyan (Charles Aznavour), whose production is based on Clarence Ussher's actual book An American Physician In Turkey which depicts the Siege of Van, and the tragic events of 1915. Seamlessly shifting through time, Atom Egoyan explores the quest for personal, sexual and cultural identity through the intimate moments shared by lovers, families, enemies and strangers.

Ararat intertwines the paths of two families. At the center is an 18 year old boy on the cusp of adulthood, Raffi (David Alpay) and a man on the eve of his retirement, David (Christopher Plummer). Raffi returns to Canada with cans of 35mm film, digital tapes and a mystery. He is sent to customs for inspection. David, the retiring Customs official is determined to discover what Raffi is concealing. According to Raffi, the canisters contain "additional" material for a film being shot in Toronto. David suspects otherwise and his questioning leads to an intense psychological examination.

Raffi struggles with the memory of his father and his very present mother, Ani (Arsinée Khanjian), an art historian specializing in the work of the great abstract expressionist painter Arshile Gorky (Simon Abkarian). Raffi is also torn between his mother and his relationship with his step-sister, Celia (Marie-Josée Croze), who blames Ani for her own father's death.

David is coming to terms with his gay son Philip (Brent Carver) and Philip's lover, Ali (Elias Koteas) while trying to build a solid relationship with his grandson, Tony. When Ali, an actor, is cast in the Saroyan film, the paths of these two families become inextricably linked, culminating in David's intense interrogation of Raffi's mysterious cargo. What begins as a search for clues becomes a quest for truth across a vast and ancient terrain of lies, deception, denial, fact and fears.

Ararat explores how history, both personal and political, can inspire a legacy of uncertainty and insecurity. It is a true story about the nature of living proof.