By: Henry J. Fromage (Six Pack) –
The first thing I noticed about Adore was how many production companies that teamed up to make the film… and how the majority were French. Being as this is an Australian, English-language film, that was noteworthy, but once the movie was over, well… it made sense.
Queasy deviant sexuality is kinda their thing
Adore, formerly entitled Two Mothers, is about two moms and lifelong friends who fall in love, or lust at least, with each other’s 18 year old sons. This premise is taken dreadfully seriously. That’s pretty much all you need to know plot-wise.
Director Anne Fontaine is not without visual talent, that’s for sure. She shoots the gorgeous Australian coastline with a polished, magic hour-glazed form that is never less than beautiful to look at, even if it does seem like the whole damn movie takes place between 6 and 7pm.
Right out of Terence Malick’s Beginners Guide to Cinematography
Also, when you hire Naomi Watts and Robin Wright Penn, you know you’re going to get a good performance. Both do nuanced, affecting work in complementary yet very different ways. Too bad the rest of the film around them is precisely the opposite of nuanced and affecting.
This might be because the only three dimensional characters are Watts and Penn’s. Their sons are generic man-meat for most of the film, then soap opera-level plot drivers for the last part. James Frecheville (surprisingly, not the one who was in the Twilight movies) in particular is just awful.
Me sad now.
Ben Mendelsohn is ten times the actor they could ever hope to be, but even he’s utterly wasted. You’d think the evil manipulative uncle from Animal Kingdom or the batshit stickup artist from Killing Them Softly would discover their secret and go off on them verbally at least, but nope, Cuckold McCuckoldsohn just smiles wanly and fades into the background.
Saul is a bald single guy who likes Naomi Watts. Nothing wrong with that, but midway through his character arc he gets turned into some kind of creepster antagonist in such a shoehorned-in, inorganic way it’s unintentionally hilarious. Then he just wanders off, never to be seen again.
Saul, we’ll miss thee
As small a part of the movie as he is, he’s emblematic of the haphazard, thrown-together nature of this plot, where nothing feels even remotely realistic.
Of course, with this premise, you’re already deep in a self-dug hole. Sure, in the history of humanity, a decent smattering of dudes have probably hooked up with their best friend’s mom, as icky an idea as that is. But dual mother/son bed-swapping? Never gonna happen, and eww.
Fat chance, Finch
Let’s spot the movie that one, okay? Still, what 18 year old boys spend their free time hanging out with their moms all day? They aren’t on a desert island. Clearly other people their own age are present. Worst of all, though, is the time jump, which indicates that not only have these vomit-inducing relationships have survived for two years, but that nobody has found out about them. Two years with no drama from a setup that should keep that town’s psychiatrist busy for decades, then here comes the drama? Really?
There’s an Aussie New Wave going on at the moment with films like the aforementioned Animal Kingdom and Snowtown that portray a lyrical, stoic, almost impenetrable perspective of people transformed by violence and crime. Adore has some stylistic similarities with those, but unfortunately porking your friend’s mom is not quiiittee the same thing as serial killing.
Truly, mankind has suffered no greater trial
So, we have a movie that is incredibly self-serious, tackling a ludicrous premise, trying to intermix well-rounded actresses and brooding GQ models. The result? A whole lot of unintentional comedy. The theater I was in laughed more at this than any comedy I’ve gone to the movies for this year.
Aussie or not, this overly artsy film focused on casual sexuality in the most uncasual of contexts certainly feels French. Unfortunately, that’s not a complement in the case of Adore, or, it’s longer working title, White People Problems, The Movie: Sexual Misadventures of the Bland and Pretentious. Steer clear of this beautifully gift-wrapped turd.
Take a Drink: whenever Adonis Blondie acts like a dick
Take a Drink: whenever a character does
Take a Drink: when it’s swim time
Take a Drink: for every uncomfortable sexual moment
Take a Drink: whenever pairs are emphasized
Do a Shot: ewww, no, ewww!