"Adoration"; a film review by Gary Chew
"Anger sucks up a lot of intelligence," writes Atom Egoyan in his new movie, "Adoration." And it seems intelligence is what the film most wants to project. Then come the serious, contemporary social concerns.
A French and Drama teacher named Sabine (Arsinée Kahnjian) assigns her student, Simon (Devon Bostick), to translate a news story about the actual in-flight attempted bombing of a large passenger jet in 1986. That was before Richard Reid started wearing dangerous sneakers.
Ms. Kahnjian, who is married to Mr. Egoyan, gets top honors for her effort with young Bostick a close second. Rachel Blanchard plays Simon's mom, Noam Jenkins is Simon's dad and Scott Speedman has the role of Simon's uncle.
Although his personality doesn't fit for making such a decision, the serious, intelligent Simon relates his translation to the class after personalizing it, saying it happened to his mother and father. The earnest Sabine goes along with the ruse, I supposed, because it will bring more drama onto her syllabus? Wrong.
The actual incident, had it been "successful," would have extinguished the lives of the 400 passengers aboard. Simon's making it personal causes the "fact" to become a fib that two who perish in the explosion would have been Simon's mom and Simon, himself, as he was stowed away in his mother's womb at the time as a fetus.
Maybe Simon's instructor is subconsciously hoping to add the study of Existentialism to all the French and Drama going forward in her Toronto, Ontario classroom? Wrong.
"Adoration" begins rather confusedly with a long wait for the disparate strings in its arc to coalesce. While we wait, characters seemingly engage in off-the-wall actions, especially Sabine. That's because Egoyan wants to surprise us as much as possible about motivation and outcome.
Mixed in as well, are the lad's floating fantasies about his parents that come in quickly segued bites that tend toward disorientation when coupled with other flash backs and flash forwards. It's difficult to tell where the real thread in time is in the movie. That's not, necessarily, a complaint but it does present more of a challenge for bringing off a script with clarity and credulity.
I kept comparing the social sense of this movie to some I've seen by John Sayles; the earnest message being one of honesty, reason and concern for family and community while having to endure, much of the time, an almost forced quirkiness.
Bigotry, theology and technology are among the many subjects taken on in this philosophical brew that bubbles in Egoyan's beaker of profundity and drear. Don't look for humor here or any release from its cerebral freight.
Unhappily, with all the trickiness of Egoyan's script, it still telegraphs what happens finally, although evoking a positive hint as to what might likely occur in a subsequent, but unwritten last scene. At least, I hope that's how "Adoration" would end if there were one more scene to be projected on the screen, despite the notion it wouldn't be as intelligent or cool to do so.
Opens Friday, 8/7 at the AMC Southroads 20.
Check Yahoo Movies-Tulsa for theaters and times.