"In my films, you're always encouraged to remember that you're watching a collection of designed images." Thus spake Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan in describing his calculatedly non-realistic style. In keeping with his earlier works, Egoyan's Speaking Parts, though grounded in reality, could never be confused with the facts of life. Arsinee Khanjian plays a near-somnambulistic maid who carries a torch for aspiring actor Michael McManus. She obsesses on McManus by renting tapes of the films in which he's appeared as a non-speaking extra. As McManus ignores Khanjian while wooing would-be filmmaker Gabrielle Rose (he wants to star in a film based on Rose's life-saving organ donation), Khanjian develops a sort of rapport with video store manager Tony Nardi, who also harbors dreams of becoming a filmmaker. The most curious (and, to some, maddening) aspect of Speaking Parts is that all the characters physically resemble one another. What this has to do with Egoyan's "message"--if any--is unclear, but it sure works towards the director's goal of assuring that the viewers are constantly aware that they're watching a movie and not Real Life.
by Hal Erickson synopsis