A chilling, compelling arch narrative accompanied by transcendent cinematography and a haunting score Adore simply encapsulates so many things I adore about film. It's non-conclusive and conflicting, thought-provoking and treats its audience with endless intelligence. The script, some perceive as tame and lifeless, but I saw it as calculating and instrumental. I thought about this film days on end. French director, Anne Fontaine's, hold on the film is evident with European sensibilities at the backbone of the film. What themes would hardly be questioned in a French film mistakenly became its defining and most talked about features. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, the film was much better received internationally than in Australia. And its not hard to see why.
Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts) are two true blue Aussie girls growing up as the closest of friends next door to each other, at the stunning coast of New South Wales. Their halcyon days of youth are spent on lazing around on a floating platform - a major fixture of the film itself. As time passes, the pair never leave their home even when both marry and have sons. Lil's husband passes away in a car accident and subsequently Lil is left to raise her son, Ian (Xavier Samuel) alone. Roz becomes something of a second mother to Ian and the two families grow up, side-by-side. At age 20, the two sons, Ian and Tom's (James Frecheville) close friendship mirrors that of Roz and Lil's. When Roz's husband, Harold (Ben Mendelsohn) leaves for Sydney for a few months, attraction between Roz and Ian comes the beginning of something dark and real - a transgression which consumes them all.
The film has been endlessly ridiculed - comparisons have been drawn to the satirical Lonely Island song "Motherlover" and the YouTube comments to the clips and trailers are brimming with references to the colloquial slur "MILF". Whilst it is true that the focal characteristics of the film are indeed taboo I am not here to judge what is right and wrong. Perhaps the contrary - the idea of the film is one which must be approached very skilfully and delicately. I can only appreciate how well the film handled the subject matter. The collaborative product of director, Anne Fontaine and the writers (credentials include: Atonement and Dangerous Liaisons) is a seamless, entertaining, plausible portrait of love euphoric.
The more complex of the two female leads was given to Naomi Watts. Her character contrasted fascinatingly with that of Robin Wright's. Whilst I found Wright mesmerising and controlled in her performance, Watts had the difficult role of transpiring vulnerabilities and insecurities. The subsequent relationships with the young men could have been viewed perverse and squeamish, but it was none of this. Instead with the keen eye of Fontaine and the flawless, confident acting of Wright and Watts - believing comes easy to the audience.
At most times, I found the script to be somewhat edgy and as stated earlier, instrumental. This aspect however, did lack slightly in consistency. At the odd moment, the script dulled and danger lurked of audience interest lost. The feature far redeemed itself however with a thrilling score (revolutionary, haunting Brotsjor by Olafur Arnalds) and the truly beguiling, aerobic skill of cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne.
Adore is mature, rich and captivating; a melancholic tune of desire. In the words of Woody Allen "The heart wants what it wants". A dynamite notion captured almost wordlessly in this feature. I find films which wander from genre-constraints to be fascinating and Adore has me spellbound in its innate drama-thriller.