Starring Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville, Ben Mendelsohn
I can understand why this is being called a film equivalent to a middle aged erotic paperback novel. I can even understand why the majority of the public won’t want to have anything to do with this film. From the director of Coco Before Chanel, French filmmaker Anne Fontaine has adapted a very provocative story into a fascinating film for those looking for something off the beaten path. Not only does the film explore dangerous sexual relationships in a very mature and reasonable way, but also a variety of other issues including parents who choose to be friends with their children (treating them as equals) instead of authority figures or the concept of chasing one’s youth. The Australian setting and landscape beautifully illustrates the passion, beautiful tan bodies and constant hunger to be wanted…
Friends since childhood, Roz (Wright) and Lil (Watts) have been accused of being lesbians because of their unbreakable bond. Following the death of her husband, Lil raises her son Ian (Samuels) alongside Harold (Mendelsohn) and Roz’s son Tom (Frecheville), who is the same age. The boys create a bond much like their mothers, drinking and surfing together. Ian’s loneliness leads him to the bed of Roz, and in turn Tom to Lil’s. “I don’t want to stop. I don’t see why we have to,” Lil says to her best friend. Both women fear the danger they are putting their sons in, as well as their own friendships, but cannot tear themselves away from the pleasure and nostalgia they feel being with each other’s son.
The real star of the film is the shock value itself.
The idea of a young man having a relationship with his mother’s friend isn’t entirely new, but Adore takes that concept and really makes it something layered here with the women being as close as sisters. Watts and Wright give pretty brave performances in difficult roles, although it’s not their best work. The real star of the film is the shock value itself. I liked the idea of these women constantly looking back on their youth in photos and then turning to these boys they refer to as god like, to find confirmation of their beauty, even though they constantly flaunt themselves on the beach daily. “I can’t remember being this happy, it’s scary,” Lil says after the second encounter.
The excitement and suspense does run thin after the initial discussion of how these two couples will interact together. However, the film does have a few twists and plot devices that continue to reinforce the fact that we are seeing a forbidden storyline that hasn’t been explored before to this degree. Fontaine and cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne do an incredible job at making the shores of Australia one of the most important characters in the film, with that floating dock in the ocean that feels like everyone’s secret escape. Watts and Wright have never looked more beautiful in the film as they seduce the boys on screen and no doubt those off screen as well.
One of the most lustful and forbidden erotic stories on screen in recent memory.