5 January 2010 | MetalAngel
Overreaching and a bit confusing,..but still a very, VERY good film.
Atom Egoyan's latest feat, "Adoration", features among Egoyan's most profound work, and it is also one of the best independent or underground films you can rent this year. Now, you might be wondering how I can call a film by Atom Egoyan 'underground', when he's one of the most renowned directors in the world. It's precisely the same question I asked a fellow critic of mine who recommended it, and now that I've seen it, I have the answer: It features a large cast of 'unknowns' (with the possible exception of Scott Speedman), a large crew of unknowns, it features a small budget, it's artsy...but most of all, it aspires and tries to be overwhelming at its impact and appealing to the masses, and it fails to be either at the end. Not even the seal of recognition from the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 saved this film from being on a short release during the winter of 2009 and from finally emerging on DVD, at the end of the same year.
But please, bear with me. The film deals with a teenager called Simon (Devon Bostick) who's written a fictional monologue where his father left his pregnant mother on a plane and hid a bomb on her carry-on bag, which is discovered by the authorities and which foils his plans of terrorism. Prompted by Sabine, his French teacher (Arsinée Khanjian), he makes his classmates believe the story is true, and publishes it on an Internet chat room which makes thousands of bloggers go crazy on the subjects of terrorism, victims, love, recognition, the value of life, etc...all of that, prompted by his story. Simon is scared to find out how much of his fictional story is true, since for some reason it has a familiar ring with some images of his past. So he decides to make a video diary where he films the bloggers who heatedly comment on his story, and who provide him with the necessary 'mind fuel' to deduct whether his father actually WAS an assassin, whether his mother was his victim, whether his grandfather (Kenneth Welsh) polluted their memory and whether his uncle (Scott Speedman) is hiding something.
I know, it sounds like a complicated storyline...and it is. There are infinite separate plots (each character has ulterior motives, an agenda, and a haunting past which establishes their present personalities), and the film is given to us in puzzle pieces, with the separate scenes jumping from present, to future to past...to imaginary present, future and past...all of this to a point where you won't understand a thing you see on screen if you're not fully concentrated. I was, thankfully, and I found it easy to keep up with so many plot lines, and as the film progressed and I discovered more details and secrets every second, I felt my heart pounding and my palms sweating from the tension and the heavy drama on screen. THAT'S where the film is genius; on the way it uses an intelligent and complicated plot perfectly, and on how it reaches over to the audience.
The film IS good, it is very very good, actually, but it tries to exceed its own potential, giving way to a large amount of unfinished plot twists, undeveloped characters and confusing situations. Stories begin to fit in together, resolutions are being taken, and by the end of the film the principal characters have all found catharsis in their own way...but what about the infinite number of other characters the film presents? They're all left behind, with no completion whatsoever. SO many topics that were effectively handled and most of them weren't developed! The main characters (Simon, the French teacher, the uncle, the grandfather and the parents) have incredible depth, and halfway through the film you're convinced that this might just be THE deepest and most intelligent film of the decade...but soon after that, the film is over and only the superficial plot lines where resolved, only the surface of the characters came full circle. It's one of those movies where the credits start rolling and you say "It's over?! But what about the...", then you start making so any questions, and you start coming up with so many answers, all of them giving birth to more questions...until you have no idea what you're even coming up with.
Perhaps this was Egoyan's point, to keep us thinking and thinking until our thoughts seem to have detached from the film itself; it's a good thing to do- to have your public ponder so much- but it's bad when it affects the movie. Like I said, it tries to overreach, it goes literally everywhere with so much plot that OBVIOUSLY there are going to be mistakes and plot lines will be left unsolved. But even through these flaws, the film delivers interesting messages, it gives us a couple of memorable characters and a story (however complicated it may be) that entertains and envelops the viewer. And even if the balance of the film slowly shattered at the end, for most of the duration it was maintained, giving the viewer a very rewarding hour and forty minutes of viewing experience.
If you love artsy, independent films- see it. If you're tired of mainstream Hollywood brainless flicks and want something new- see it. If you love Atom Egoyan or are planning to introduce him into your cinema knowledge- see it. If you're expecting to see a paramount in independent cinema that transcends our expectations on the seventh art- skip it. This is very good, but not great. Nevertheless, I still recommend it.
Rating: 3 stars out of 4!