‘Adore’ unable to find meaning behind unconventional plotPosted on September 5, 2013 | by Zack Grullon
Anne Fontaine’s bizarre erotic drama “Adore” feels promising at its start. The film’s beginning finds two mothers — Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright), two childhood friends — who engage in affairs with each other’s teenage sons, Ian (Xavier Samuels) and Tom (James Frecheville) respectively.
Unfortunately, “Adore” never develops a deeper meaning. Through this odd plot, the film clearly wants to explore profound themes, such as family and friendship, but is never able to connect them with the unconventional sexuality it portrays.
“Adore” is an adaptation of Doris Lessing’s novel “The Grandmothers,” so maybe there is more explanation in the novel that screenwriter Christopher Hampton simply could not translate to the screen. A longer exposition could have solved the film’s problems by explaining Lil and Roz’s motivations for their actions, but the film rushes to show the sexuality, which, truthfully, isn’t even all that steamy.
The screenplay feels conceptually misguided. Is it a commentary on the impractical means members of the upper class use to resolve their issues or is it about the complexities of familial relations? “Adore’s” screenplay isn’t focused enough to let its viewers know for sure.
Despite a shaky screenplay, the distinguished cast members abley convey the emotional drama at hand. The plot feels ripped straight from a soap opera, but the actors, along with director Anne Fontaine, successfully sell these emotions for the most part. In particular, Watts and Wright deliver nuanced performances and bring convincing chemistry to the film. The actresses’ performances are so believable that they become their characters — it seems like they really have been childhood friends all along in the film.
“Adore” is also handsomely shot. The camera often lingers on the tropical ocean’s beautiful scenery, a side of Australia filmmakers normally avoid in favor of the desert. The night scenes are filmed particularly well — Fontaine knows how to hide her characters in the evening shadows without losing sight of their physicality and mental emotions. Furthermore, the ways the film utilizes camera tricks to represent the main characters’ transition from children to adults is seamless and astonishing.
“Adore” wants to appeal to the thinking woman demographic — the type of audience that avoids the melodramatic trappings of Nicholas Sparks adaptations. In that respect, “Adore” is actually successful. However, the film also wants to provoke discussion about human relationships and sexuality, which doesn’t work quite so well. What truly could have been a thought-provoking story winds up becoming nothing more than a better-than-average erotic melodrama.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sep. 5 print edition. Zack Grullon is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.