‘Adore’: Love and friendship on the Australian seaside
A review of the drama ‘Adore,’ a movie about friendship and reckless love.
Seattle Times movie critic
‘Adore,’ with Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville, Ben Mendelsohn. Directed by Anne Fontaine, from a screenplay by Christopher Hampton, based on the novella “The Grandmothers” by Doris Lessing. 110 minutes. Rated R for sexual content and language. SIFF Cinema at the Uptown, Sundance Cinemas.
The plot of Anne Fontaine’s “Adore,” when described, sounds like the soapiest of melodramas: Two lovely middle-aged women, Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright), have been best friends since childhood; now, they’re neighbors in their small Australian seaside town. Lil is a widow; Roz’s husband (Ben Mendelsohn) is a drama teacher who’s often away.
Each woman has one child, a son. As the film’s main story begins, the boys — Lil’s son Ian (Xavier Samuel), Roz’s son Tom (James Frecheville) — are in their late teens and male-model beautiful, with sculpted abs and pouty lips.
From the way the camera catches the furtive looks between this striking foursome, it’s clear where we’re headed: Roz falls into an affair with Ian, Lil finds herself in bed with Tom.
At first, each woman is horrified to hear the identity of her son’s new lover, but they quickly find a strange peace. It seems, for these lifelong friends, a new kind of intimacy. The two couples create a little us-against-the-world fortress; lying side-by-side on a raft at their quiet beach, they drift quietly, seen only by the sky.
Always lovely to look at, “Adore” occupies tricky territory; a few scenes take the emotion too far over the top and the audience out of the movie.
But Watts and Wright movingly convey their characters’ journeys: caught up in new, reckless love; frightened by the passage of years; determined to hide within an envelope of stolen time and a fantasy that can’t last. Their laughing, no-words-needed friendship stays with us when the movie’s over; it’s what remains, when the waves stop crashing.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com