Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Adore (2013) - ★★★★½

Director: Anne Fontaine
Writers: Doris Lessing (novel), Christopher Hampton (screenplay), Anne Fontaine (adaptation)
Stars: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville, Ben Mendelsohn, Sophie Lowe, Jessica Tovey, Gary Sweet

At the risk of sounding silly, I’m just going to say it. I ADORE Adore. It has one of the most out there, taboo stories I’ve ever come across in cinema. That’s not what makes it an unforgettable cinematic treasure. The way it illuminates the characters, with grace, sensitivity, and understanding, is what makes it so damn beautiful. The cinematography is unbelievably beautiful, the storytelling is both sympathetic and moving, but above all, the performances left me speechless. It’s one of the greatest films to ever come out of Australia, and one of the best films of 2013.

Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) have been best friends since they were little girls. Now middle aged women, both of their sons have grown up to be handsome young men. They fall for each other's sons, who in turn fall in love with them right back. It's a sensitive and highly interesting look at the complicated feelings and relationships from this perplexing, yet believable situation. 

“God Lil, look at that. Did we do that? We must have done.”
“We certainly did.”
“They’re beautiful. They’re like young Gods.”

Adore is a visually stunning film to behold. Scene after scene, we see some truly exquisite cinematography. It displays some absolutely beautiful images of the Australian coast, using a range of remarkable camera techniques to give us many views of the scenery. One of the greatest aspects of the film is the way it pays respect to the facial expressions if its characters. Watts and Wright are masters of wearing their emotions on their faces, making their stunning scenes of reflection and reaction that much more powerful. The fitting score composed by Christopher Gordon enhances the marvellous camerawork by Christophe Beaucarne. They blend together perfectly, painting a gorgeous picture of where the story takes place, and the emotions of the characters.

I don’t think it’s very hard to understand these characters. The movie does most of the work, displaying each of their personalities quite effectively. Lil and Roz have been best friends since they were young girls. They’re soul mates, who sink or swim together no matter what. It’s been that way all through their lives, so you’d expect their friendship to overcome anything that threatens to destroy that. Both of their sons have grown into very handsome young men, making it only human to feel some sort of attraction to each other’s sons. What makes things more complicated is that the sons are both attracted to each other’s mothers. When they acted on their feelings, it wasn’t all that hard to understand why. It’s the events that come afterwards that truly tell us the most about their characters.

Robin Wright gave a mesmerising performance. 
“She’s known him since he was a baby.”
“Then they’ve probably been thinking about it for quite a while, wouldn’t you say?”

What impressed me the most about Adore were the performances from the cast. Somehow, all four of them were able to project these feelings of long-harboured desire, and confusion about their feelings. From Naomi Watts’ expressive face, to Robin Wright’s way with words, to Xavier Samuel’s chemistry with Wright, to James Frecheville’s chemistry with Watt’s.

There’s a scene where Roz walks down the hallway, and stops at Ian’s room where the door is open. She stands there for a short while, admiring his half naked, beautiful body. He turns around and says, “Roz.” In this moment, Wright and Samuel share such an intense, erotic moment. All they did was stare at each other, but you could cut the sexual tension in the air with a knife. That was a brilliant scene.

Wright and Samuel had fantastic chemistry. 
Watts and Frecheville were fantastic together.
One of the most memorable scenes in Adore is when Naomi Watts looks at herself in the mirror. In that moment, you could see all of her fears plastered across her face. She fears growing old, being undesirable, losing Tom, and being alone. Lil is not alone in those feelings, for Roz is going through the exact same anxieties. I imagine growing old would be one of the scariest things about being in a relationship with someone that’s less than half your age. Watts and Wright knew how to pack a powerful punch with this theme. I respect them as actresses so much, because they don’t mind showing their blemishes and wrinkles. They committed fully to these characters and their emotions, which made this such an engrossing cinematic experience.

Naomi Watts, my new favourite performance of 2013. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes while watching Adore. Its story is something not many of us can relate to, and something that would be hard for many to understand. The cast put their heart and soul into the people they portrayed, and it showed through their powerful expressive emotions. It’s such a beautiful film that has a truly sensitive consideration for the characters. I found myself in awe of all the stunning scenes throughout the film. Watts and Wright astounded me, and so far in 2013, I believe they should each be nominated for Academy Awards.


  1. Loved it. Bought it. Agree with this entire post. So glad you mentioned the score. It was very much a character in itself and intensified chemistry and mood.