Review: Adore (2013, Anne Fontaine)

Adore-Movie1RATING: 6/10

Director: Anne Fontaine
Cast: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville, Ben Mendelsohn, Sophie Lowe, Jessica Tovey, Gary Sweet
Screenplay: Christopher Hampton & Anne Fontaine (Based on the novel by Doris Lessing)

When I first heard of “Adore”, I was beyond excited. Being a big fan of Naomi Watts and Robin Wright, I wanted to see the two actresses feed off of each others greatness. By the end of the movie, I was disappointed, to say the least. But not by the two women, who clearly delivered very interesting performances. Overall, I didn’t think the movie was bad. With such a provocative plot, I definitely expected much more in terms of drama, but there’s something about Anne Fontaine’s treatment that made the film a little bit draggy and unrealistic at times.

The film features Naomi Watts and Rob Wright as childhood best friends Lil and Roz. Being best friends, it only seemed right that they raised their sons Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Tom (James Frecheville) to be best buddies too. But as the two women begin to age (and eventually become single due to different unfortunate events in their lives), they begin to develop strong sexual feelings for each other’s sons. Their common friendship starts to become an unconventional one as they must begin to deal with each other’s presence in life, but in a completely new way they never thought would ever happen.

Despite being first billed in the credits, Naomi Watts was completely casted aside by a strong performance from Robin Wright. Wright has been under everyone’s radar for years (remember, she was Jenny in “Forrest Gump”? And that’s a big deal too.), but now she has blossomed into a seasoned actress, acting with such subtle eyes and actions, that her role becomes ultimately heartbreaking. For me, she was the centre of the film’s universe. Watt’s has always provided class A work, but her role could have used more meat. Bigger behaviour and mannerisms to be able to catch her own sort of limelight.

The two sons, portrayed by young actors Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville, were objectified and stayed that way all throughout the movie. They had their own scenes that were meant to be dramatically heavy, but they didn’t impress too much. There is potential for them though because the two really began to shine near the end of the film, when they were already playing matured adults. They seemed to scripted and constructed at the start of the film, but that is the fault of the direction which seemed to have forgotten that their subjects are actors and wanted to show them on screen like they were Greek Gods.

The cinematography was breathless. But it was so beautiful, that the movie would often run on and forget that they’re trying to tell a story. And yet, the shots focused so much on the constructed beauty around the characters, that Christopher Hampton’s dialogue work was out shined. I guess that would be the best for everyone, because this was probably one of his weakest screenplays. And that man has done his fair amount of good and bad work.

I can’t say much about Anne Fontaine’ direction because I’m unfamiliar with the filmmaker. But beauty on screen doesn’t always translate to a good movie. It sure helps, but in the case of “Adore” it was a little bit too distracting. The two female leads made the film worth while, but I think Miss Fontaine should learn that it’s okay to push the limits on film. “Adore” could have been much more interesting, if the director had stepped out of her comfort zone and really tried to tell this twisted tale in a different way without fear.

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