Adore is the third title for this Australian-French drama film by Anne Fontaine. It was previously known as Perfect Mothers and Two Mothers, it originally screened at Sundance Film Festival under the later. The script is adapted from a novella by British writer, Doris Lessing, entitled The Grandmothers. And i don’t think things could be more unsettling than the movie itself. (Beware of NSFW image under the cut)
The concept of a younger guys dating an older women is not really a new thing in cinema. In Adore, we met not one, but two beautiful women who were romantically involved with younger gentlemen, but that’s not even the punchline. These gentlemen is their own sons. This is like a weird version of swingers. Only, instead of husbands, these mothers exchanged sons as their lovers. The concept was so baffling for me that even until i finally wrote this review i still unsure about how i feel about this movie.
The mothers are Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts), the two are best friends from their childhood and shared a strong bond. So strong, that some people even assume that they’re lezzos. The two enjoyed their leisurely time at the beach, walking barefoot on the sands, frolicking in the sun, while their two adonis sons enjoyed the licks and waves of the ocean. Ian (Xavier Samuel) is Lil’s son, he’s been friend with Roz’s son Tom (James Frecheville) forever, growing up together and as inseparable as their mothers are. Looking every bit like Abercrombie and Fitch models, “They look like young gods,” Roz mused to Lil at one point of the movie.
Roz and Ian’s affair begin almost out of the blue, but the two shared a palpable tension between them through subtle smiles and stolen glances. When the two started to act on their feelings, Tom probably feeling betrayed by his own mother and best friend, decided to initiate a relationship with Lil as well. Lil was apprehensive at first, but i think warm up to idea very quickly when she rediscover youth in Tom. I think in some ways Lil is obsessed about youthfulness, that one moment in front of the mirror is so vulnerable and loudly sending across the silent wail of her withering youth. I think being in love with Tom made her feel alive and young again. I really don’t know if what they shared was lust, romance, or just a need to eradicate their loneliness. Somehow i think Roz and Lil is really in love with each other and they express it to an extreme extent of loving each other offsprings.
The idea of romance with a significant age disparity has been done repeatedly both in cinema and literature. But i guess the ideas that the two women are best friends and mothers to each others lovers made the context even more baffling for me. I like the journey both of these characters endure as they descend towards the twisted ending. The two seasoned actress, Watts and Wright are both good, which is not a surprise. But the two young male leads can balanced them out very well. This is definitely a solid ensemble. Sadly i don’t think it is enough to execute this high concept story. Maybe it’s the realism that felt too bland and slightly underwhelming.
While i feel so detached after watching Adore, I could not help but wonder if the material would’ve worked better on paper than on celluloid. But if anything, the cinematography by Christophe Beauarne was nice to look at, capturing the Shangri-la these lovers shared, isolated in their floating island deck on the pacific ocean, away from the world.
Frankly i could not help but to think about another form that told the same story, at least from this one i know i’d get entertained :D
DIRECTOR Anne Fontaine | PRODUCER Phillippe Carcassonne, Michel Feller, Barbara Gibbs | WRITER Christopher Hampton | MUSIC Christopher Gordon, Anthony Partos | CINEMATOGRAPHER Christophe Beaucarne | EDITOR Luc Barnier, Ceinwen Berry | STUDIO Hopscotch Films, Remstar | DISTRIBUTOR Gaumont | COUNTRY Australia, France | RELEASE January 18, 2013 (Sundance) | RUNNING TIME 111 minutes | RATING R for sexual content and language | BUDGET $16 million
STARRING Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville