Film review: Adoration is thought provoking

Melissa Oey checks out Adoration, an Australian co-production filmed on the picturesque north coast of New South Wales:

Though the plot essentially revolves around two life-long friends – Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts) – falling in love with each others’ sons, it should be noted that the sex scenes are not dominant, nor were they over-indulgent, misogynistic or, given the context, sickening. Based on the novella entitled ‘The Grandmothers’ by 2007 Nobel laureate Doris Lessing, and directed by Anne Fontaine (Coco before Chanel) it is tastefully executed and manages to make you sympathetic to the otherwise irksome relationships.

The beauty of this film was the emotional intensity that it captured, and the consistency with which it was dealt. When I wasn’t on edge anticipating the moment the ‘mother loving’ would be exposed, I feared the heat of such illicit affairs would boil over and incite some murderous rage. Essentially, there was so much tension that you could cut it with a knife, but it definitely wasn’t predominantly sexual. This was the most interesting thing about the aspect of love and of passion that this film explores – on a whole, it was more about the enduring relationship between the Roz and Lil as friends – and at times you wonder if the relationships they formed with one another’s sons wasn’t just a transferral of the love they couldn’t fathom having with each other.

It helped that Adoration was set in an isolated coastal town of NSW. The many sea, swim and sun scenes set the tone of the film as somewhat wistful but also, essentially daunting. The cinematography in this regard, definitely worked to establish their passion for the beach as a metaphor for the ever-present risk of drowning in their passions for each other. It also reinforced the sense of exceptionality of their context – allowing such complicated love relationships to seem plausible, as well as very real and relatable and not in an oedipal way, mind you. Each relationship including that of the four of them together (as a double (date) entendre) is distinct from one another, and each are equally complex, which is important in order to get your stomach to calm itself in light of the confronting intimacy between essentially a boy and his ‘second mother’.

There is also some quality acting by the likes of Robin Wright and Naomi Watts in particular, although Wright’s accent falters somewhat throughout the film. Though some of the lines were a little clunky, it didn’t detract from the overall effective casting of Tom (James Frecheville) and Ian (Xavier Samuel). The latter powerfully embodies an intensely infatuated, reckless and impassioned man-child.

Definitely thought-provoking and definitely not the new 50 Shades of Grey, this is for the cultured kid; go out and see it on the big screen – unless you’re expecting this story about two friends falling in love with each others’ sons to be told in the form of titillating thrift shop novel (you lot can stay at home, sickos).



Review by Melissa Oey. Adoration hits screens on Nov 21st.