Everyone enjoys a little controversy, particularly when taking in a work of art. But how far is too far? 'Adoration', the new Australian/French co-production from director Anne Fontaine, pushes the boundaries with its story that blurs the lines between maternal and romantic relationships.
Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) are best friends. They've grown up together, live next door to each other in a beautiful beach setting, and each have a son, their pride and joy. However, as Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Tom (James Frecheville) reach the age of maturity and their families each deal with respective changes, the women find themselves falling in love with the other's son - a feeling they discover is reciprocated.
Despite the potential squeamishness of this film, it's not anywhere near as unsightly as you might expect. The concept is actually delivered with surprising sincerity and credibility, thanks largely to the courageous leaps made by the four key cast. Watts and Frecheville's on-screen relationship is delivered with a great amount of subtlety, but it's Robin Wright and Xavier Samuel's partnership that truly delivers; the two light up the screen with a real and believable affection that will, by the end, have you empathising with the couple.
French filmmaker Anne Fontaine's work here is close to flawless - the coastal setting of New South Wales' Seal Rocks looks amazing in every frame, and the shots out past the churning surf on the calm water (particularly the closing sequence) are particularly stunning. She also captures the intimate moments with the same beauty, never showing more than the audience wants to see; it's more sensual than sexual. Australian films also tend to suffer from lagging plots and clunky dialogue, but this is certainly not the case here - the script from Christopher Hampton (based on the novella by Doris Lessing) ensures you won't be disinterested for the entirety of its 111 minute duration.
This film will not be everyone's cup of tea, but 'Adoration' is one of the bravest, most compelling and well-produced films to be made in Australia in a long time. This film is intimate, and gives the viewer a voyeuristic glimpse of these two couples, which is sure to leave you mildly uncomfortable, yet thoroughly engrossed.