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Byron Shire
April 11, 2021

Cinema review – Adoration

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Adoration is a Franco-Australian production, with a soupçon too much of the self-consciousness of Euro arthouse for my taste.

In defence of French cinema, however, they do like nothing better than to light a fire under an old taboo – but now that we’re all in cyberspace, is anything taboo any more?

The story is about two women, no longer spring chickens (Naomi Watts and Robin Wright), having it off with each other’s son (Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville).

Shock horror, huh?

They live a mindlessly idyllic life on a headland somewhere north of Sydney. They spend their days surfing, dining sensually, drinking a good deal of vin rouge, and even smoking – for whatever reason, the Froggies accord to le fag a failsafe ability to communicate moodiness/sultriness/thoughtfulness… l’existentialisme!

Naomi, long widowed, and Robin, with a hastily sketched husband (Ben Mendelsohn) who has moved to the city to take up a uni teaching job, allow themselves to be seduced by the boys and the relationships go beyond the merely carnal. Both women are reborn, their femininity rekindled.

Watts and Wright rise above a script that morphs from warmish to cold and back again, but the blokes, though handsome, are a bit wooden.

There are a number of instances of clunky dialogue – whoever wrote the scene in which Gary Sweet, a suitor of Naomi, declares his love for her, should be garrotted – and there are probably enough establishment shots of the maison overlooking the beach to fit into three movies.

Based on a novel by Doris Lessing, the transfer from page to screen has resulted in a turgid potboiler that falls somewhere between Schoolgirls’ Confidential and the Penthouse Forum, with neither the titillation and skanky wit of the former nor the get-down-dirty-and-sweaty horniness of the latter.

The outcome is bleak, but none of the unappealing characters deserve any better. An arduous hundred minutes, it feels too much like payback for all of those French flicks in which wrinkly old men pull chicks who can’t resist them.

~ John Campbell


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