Directed by: Anne Fontaine
Written by: Christopher Hampton
Starring: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Ben Mendelsohn, Xavier Samuel, James Frenchville
At the very least, Adore proves that you can have good filmmaking mixed with great actors and still come out with an absolutely putrid story. A film that tries to push boundaries, but instead cannot get over the hump of the absurdity of its central premise. It all becomes a shame because of everything else working well.
As lifelong friends, Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) have done everything together and live as neighbors along with their sons, Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Tom (James Frecheville). While Roz’s husband (Ben Mendelsohn) goes away to get everything set up for his family in Sydney, the four individuals are left alone in paradise. This time together allows them to get closer to the point where Ian (Roz’s Son) starts sleeping with Lil and Tom (Lil’s son) with Roz. Two affairs that will certainly complicate everything.
I enjoy boundary-pushing cinema as much as anyone but there has to be a line and the way you feel about this plot will dictate your overall feelings of the film. The relationship that these four have feels so gross, especially when looking at Roz and Lil. Two individuals that have been together from the beginning that they nearly become sisters and getting to the point where they resort to sleeping with the others’ son baffles me in a negative way. It becomes such a shame because it shows that a rotten story cannot be saved with everything else around it working very well.
Anne Fontaine has become no stranger to difficult stories, as she took on the voyeuristic Gemma Bovery and the harrowing The Innocents. Each of her stories represents hard truths or some interesting characters, and she fails to do that with Roz and Lil. The surroundings look gorgeous as the cinematography brings us into what feels like paradise where sunshine reigns and going out to surf becomes a natural part of the day. One sequence where they all lay on this free-floating dock shows the bliss and serenity of their surroundings, but it becomes marred by its story.
It comes at no fault to the fantastic lead actors in Robin Wright and Naomi Watts. They each have their own struggles in life (not really) but the fact that they resort to sleeping with the others’ son becomes absolutely silly. It would be one thing if these affairs were in secret, but it all comes out and they decide that they want to work it out. Watts portrays a more insecure character and does it well as the plot thickens and Ian starts to look at women around his own age eventually. Roz faces that similar fear as they see what they eventually mean to Ian and Tom. The relationship between the two guys also feels incredibly strange as two men who have grown up together as kids and suddenly being okay with sleeping with each other’s mothers. There’s certainly a curse word that defines what these two become.
The story becomes dull by the end with the way the relationships carry on, which obviously will not go well especially with Roz’s husband stopping by at any time to move his family to Sydney. Nothing much of substance occurs in the film except for the dynamic of these relationships, and the story did not vibe with me at all. I could see if someone went along with the story and combined with the good acting and great technicals that this could be viewed as a good film but Adore left me stunned that these relationships came together and it did not even provide a worthwhile conclusion to top it all off.