"Felicia's Journey" is an intriguing psychological thriller about a pregnant young Irish girl who goes to England looking for the father of her baby and finds instead a psychotic, middle-aged man disguised as savior. The brilliant Canadian director, Atom Egoyan, literally isn't quite at home with the material or the location [it was shot in Great Britain]. Consequently, the movie is not quite as good as my two favorites of his, "The Sweet Hereafter" and "Exotica", though it shares that same fascinating, hypnotic quality I so much admire.
As Joe, a man whose facade conceals some dreadful secrets, Bob Hoskins is awesome. He seems so innocent and well-meaning until you notice how quickly the look in his eyes can go from benign to malignant. Elaine Cassidy is just about perfect as Felicia, the young girl. She gives her dignity and purpose, portraying her as a good girl who doesn't have a clue as to how to deal with her problems. She lets Joe lure her in, not because she is stupid, but because she is innocent and unworldly.
This is not a commercial movie. One of the main reasons is that Joe is not an over-the-top villain. He is all too similar to lots of people we see every day. He does appear to be a bit furtive and secretive at times, but not so much so that anyone would suspect his dreadful other side. He is not over there in some special place we pretend madmen live in. He's just the nice man who lives next door. We can't distance ourselves from him easily, and that's an uncomfortable feeling. We are much more at home with the likes of Hannibal Lecter, who safely exists only in a book or a movie.
Despite its faults, "Felicia's Journey is much better than the average thriller, in particular because its images stick with you long after you've seen it.
Since I have not read the novel the movie is based on, I can't comment on how the two compare.