Sunday, May 10, 2009


After he’s given us Where the Truth Lies, a very mainstream (and outstanding) film, director Atom Egoyan comes back to his artistic roots with a much more cerebral film. This time, one of Canada’s greatest filmmakers deals with technology, communication, bereavement and curiosity about one's true identity. In short, you either like it (just like me) or you don’t. Without necessarily being the tour de force that it could have been, Adoration is a fine character-driven film that needed a little bit more development.

Simon (Devon Bostick), a teenager from a suburb of Toronto, has been raised by his uncle, Tommy (Scott Speedman), ever since his parents (Noam Jenkins and Rachelle Blanchard) died in a car accident. Now, Simon seeks to clear up the cloud of mystery surrounding the identity of his father. In his French class, Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian), his teacher, asks the students to translate a news article about a Jordanian jihadist who placed a bomb in his pregnant Irish girlfriend’s luggage back in 1986 on a flight from London to Tel-Aviv. Moreover, this article also specifies that the attack was foiled by Israeli custom agents. Obviously, Simon uses his curiosity about his parents’ death to state, in an essay (that he reads in front of his class), that he was the unborn child of the woman who didn’t even know she was carrying a bomb.

Afterwards, he takes it to the next level by “revealing” this falsehood on the Internet. This goes without saying that it creates a hell of a reaction from many people in a video forum. However, as he spreads this lie on the web, there are three questions at the centre of the story: 1) Will Simon get over his bereavement; 2) Will the truth about his parents’ death come out; 3) Will the truth about the true identity of his father, who is of Arabic heritage, comes out? If it does, will the truth come from Simon’s uncle who never wanted to talk about Simon’s parents death or from his bigot grandfather (Kenneth Welsh)?

Obviously, some may find the beginning slow, dull and disorganized even though the premise is clearly announced. However, as the film enters its second third, we see in a much more organized way Simon’s quest for the truth about his parents. At the same time, he feels at ease with lying on the Internet about his parents’ identity. Therefore, it’s from the second third that we see how Egoyan has no difficulty to cut back in forth between the present tense, flashbacks (read: real facts about Simon’s parents) and false events. In a nutshell, Adoration is still a beautiful and engaging film about how one chooses to communicate. While Simon keeps his fascination about his parents for himself, he doesn’t even hesitate to make up an identity for himself on the Internet and lie. Therefore, the question is: why does Simon lie about his parents’ identity while he gradually discovers the truth about who his father was?

From that question, the film also beautifully becomes a theme-driven film in which one has to see what Egoyan thinks about the way technology (in this case, the Internet) influences communication. At the same time, Egoyan's writing becomes a little bit problematic for viewers are never explicitly told why Simon lies about his father's identity on the Internet. Therefore, one doesn't get a thorough idea about how Simon lives his bereavement, which unfortunately makes the story partially dissociated from Simon's psyche. Besides, one might even think more that the script is a little bit problematic when viewers are more interested in Tom's confession of his guilt for the death of Simon's parents (which he could have prevented) or Sabine's curiosity about Simon.

Finally, despite its flaw, Adoration is still a beautiful film because of its characters that are nonetheless full of depth and its symbolism at the end showing how Simon gets over his bereavement (and therefore emancipates himself from the past). Furthermore, the film is well served by the cast's surgically precise (and modest) performance. Although Egoyan doesn't score a hat trick with this film, he shows us that he's one of this country's greatest directors (and with reason). In fact, unlike some masters of cinema like Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) or John Woo (think about all of his mediocre Hollywood films except Face/Off), Egoyan never really showed some signs of momentary incompetence. By the way, if you watch this film, you better keep your eyes peeled.

Rating: 4/5

Origin:Canada (2009)
Length:100 minutes
Screenplay:Atom Egoyan
Director:Atom Egoyan
Devon Bostick, Scott Speedman, Arsinée Khanjian, Rachel Blanchard, Noam Jenkins and Kenneth Welsh

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