Adore (tbc)

Film image

The ViewBirmingham Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner10/10/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Watchable soapy melodrama enlivened by gorgeous photography and strong performances from all four leads, though the script veers dangerously close to laughable territory in places and it commits the unpardonable sin of side-lining Ben Mendelsohn.

What's it all about?
French director Anne Fontaine (Nathalie) makes her English language debut with Adore (aka Two Mothers), based on Doris Lessing's novella The Grandmothers. Set in a remote, idyllic Australian coastal town, the film stars Naomi Watts and Robin Wright as childhood best friends and neighbours Lil and Roz whose bond is strengthened still further when they both give birth to sons in the same year.

When Lil's husband dies and Roz's husband Harold (Ben Mendelsohn) moves to Sydney to take a job, the women are left alone with their now nineteen-year-old sons Ian and Tom (Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville) and it isn't long before simmering lusts come to the surface: first Ian makes a move on Roz and then, discovering what Ian has done, Tom makes a move on Lil. Before long, both mothers are in transgressive, full-on relationships with each other's sons, but their situation is jeopardized a few years later when Ian meets a young woman (Jessica Tovey) at his job in the city.

The Good
Watts and Wright are both excellent as the fiercely close best friends – there's a great scene where Harold asks Roz to choose between moving to Sydney with him and staying in their small town with Lil and she looks at him like she doesn't even understand the question, so obvious is her choice. Samuel and Frecheville are equally good in support, generating strong, convincing chemistry with both women – the lusty looks around the dinner table telegraph the action early on, so it's a little like watching a car crash in slow-motion.

The film is also beautifully shot, courtesy of cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne, who makes strong use of the film's idyllic coastal locations – indeed, the location plays a crucial role, because it's easy to understand the foursome's mind-set, that the outside world can't bother them in this beachside paradise.

The Bad
Despite the film's intention to play it straight, this is seriously soapy stuff and the dialogue veers dangerously close to laughable territory in places, particularly with on the nose observations like “We've crossed a line here.” That said, at least the script has the courage of its convictions and explores the idea of its unusually transgressive relationship, rather than copping out.

A bigger problem is that the film makes the baffling decision to side-line Mendelsohn early on, even denying him a reaction scene to the initial betrayal. It also fails to properly explore the mother-son-lover conflict, despite a potentially promising scene where both boys get injured and the mothers run to their lovers, rather than their sons (a moment of indecision would have gone a long way here).

Worth seeing?
Despite some dodgy dialogue issues, Adore is an enjoyably soapy, beautifully shot melodrama with strong performances from all four leads.

Be the first to review Adore...
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 22/04/2019 19:37

Latest Film Reviews

Film Blog

Urban Pundit

Keep up to date with everything in film and cinema at Urban Pundit, the exciting new blog.

Film of the Week

The Conjuring (15)

Hugely enjoyable, genuinely scary horror flick that provides a welcome throwback to classic 1970s chillers, thanks to impeccable production design, a superb script, powerfully atmospheric direction, intense set-pieces and terrific performances.

Latest Close Up

Noah Baumbach Interview

The Frances Ha director discusses co-writing the script with Greta Gerwig, shooting against the backdrop of New York and the real lives of the city’s people, Greta Gerwig’s performance, the music in the film and the picture's visual style.