Adore

*

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The year’s most hilarious drama.

Adore

The H-Bomb:  I was thinking to myself just the other day, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a good Art House Fail.  Films the likes of Passion Play or Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control.  Movies that try to be edgy and provocative, that try to convey some kind of deeper meaning or significance, but that just end up falling flat on their pompous, pretentious, highfalutin faces.  After giving Adore a go on Netflix, I can now say that I have indeed found such a film.

The English language debut of Luxembourg-born director, Anne Fontaine, adapting the book The Grandmothers by Doris Lessing, Adore tells the rather lurid tale of Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright), best friends who grew up together in a small Australian coastal town, and have been pretty much inseparable since childhood.  Now in their early forties, Lil is a widow, Roz has a husband (Ben Mendelsohn) who is always away on business, and both women have young adult sons, who are themselves best of friends.  Lil’s lad is Ian (Xavier Samuels), and Roz’s is Tom (James Frecheville).

Lil and Roz spend most of their free time, which they seem to have a lot of, sipping wine and sunbathing on the beach, while their sons go surfing.  More specifically, Lil and Roz like to gaze out at their well cut sons as they surf, with Roz commenting at one point, “They’re almost ethereal… like a couple of gods.”  And if you think that’s creepy, you ain’t heard nothing yet.  One night, after a little too much wine, Ian starts putting the moves to Roz, and the two of them end up spending the night together, dancing the horizontal mambo.

Tom finds out that Ian is boinking his mother, and is none too happy about it.  So, in order to get even… you guessed it, Tom goes to Ian’s mum, Lil, and they themselves start doing the bedroom bang-bang.  When Lil and Roz see each other again, each one knowing about the other’s indiscretion, they both agree, in a moment of temporary sanity, that what they are doing with each other’s sons is just sick and wrong in every conceivable way, and they should probably just stop.

But, before logic can get too strong a foothold, they both say the hell with decency, the heart desires what the heart desires, and they allow this utterly freakish, inter-family fuck fest to go on.  Who else wants to puke?  Anyway, two years go by, and the arrangement hasn’t changed, except that Roz is now divorced from her absentee husband, which means she is free to bang Ian without having to hide it at all.  Tom, meanwhile, is an aspiring theatre director who gets a job offer in Sydney.  That leaves Lil all alone with no boy toy to play with… poor her.

Unfortunately for Lil, things are about to get even worse.  While in Sydney, Tom has met a girl.  A girl he really likes and starts courting, and before anyone knows it, they’re engaged to be married.  How will this effect Tom’s relationship with Lil?  Or Ian’s relationship with Roz?  Will the mothers do what they should have done two years ago and end these twisted affairs once and for all?  Or will they try to undermine Tom’s new relationship?  If you’re really curious as to where it all goes from here, then I must inquire… what is your fucking damage?

Mein Gott… does this fart house film fail, or does this fart house film fail!  Equal parts creepy, melodramatic, and downright disgusting, Adore presents such an icky and warped premise that it plays so sincerely, that the only possible outcome is unintentional comedy.  For roughly the first half hour or so, it unfolds like a well photographed, but rather languid indie drama.  Then the “story” starts to set in… and the laughter begins.  For me, the shift occurs when Roz questions Tom about his initial fling with Lil, and he answers, “I did with her what Ian did with you!”  To which she responds by slapping him across the face.

It was at that point, that I burst out laughing.  It was purely an uncontrollable, knee-jerk reaction.  It took me a few moments to even realize that I was doing it.  I know that that wasn’t the filmmaker’s intended reaction.  I know I was supposed to find it oh so compelling and disturbing (and at that, it does sort of succeed), but I found it simply hilarious.  I knew then that what I was in for was perhaps the single most laugh-out-loud funny drama this side of The Room.  Once I realized this, my mood brightened.  Don’t get me wrong, Adore is one stinking, steaming pile of shit… but at times, it’s a highly amusing one… albeit entirely by accident.

Sadly for Adore, it doesn’t keep the laughs coming at a constant pace the way Tommy Wiseau did, and it ultimately turns into a boring, monotonous slog of a film with absolutely no interesting conflict, or effective dramatic tension, or anything else that would normally hold an audience’s attention.  I guess Fontaine and screenwriter Christopher Hampton believed that a couple of MILFs shagging each other’s hunky sons would be enough… they were mistaken.  When this under-cooked soap opera finally does reach its would be climax in the last reel, it has no emotional impact whatsoever.

Watts and Wright are two fine actresses, two of our finest, really, and they do try their very best, but with characters this shallow, in a script this flat, there was really nothing they could do.  You’d think that characters who are this royally fucked in the head would have some substance that they could latch onto, but there isn’t and they can’t.  The fact that neither one of them had a shred of chemistry with their respective lovers only helped in maintaining my complete lack of interest.

Long and short of it, when Adore didn’t have me pissing myself with its laughably overblown earnestness, it had me bored to bloody tears with its sense of repetition and dramatic inertia.  I’m sure everyone who signed on to this project thought that they were making a subversive, provocative piece of cinema that would really push the envelop… yeah, well, the makers of Showgirls thought they were doing the same.  If you’re in the mood for some unintended chuckles, then by all means, give it a look and have a good laugh.  Otherwise, this perverse, avant-garde misfire isn’t worthy of your time nor your attention.

 


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