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Old 10-11-2009, 01:56 PM
Atom Egoyan's Adoration

Adoration (2009)

Before "Adoration," I had only seen one other film from Atom Egoyan, which was called "Exotica." That film had several issues, the biggest of which was its lingering plotlines that never went anywhere. With "Adoration," Egoyan makes similar mistakes, but at the same time, makes new ones as well.

The film begins by introducing us to one of the main characters, Simon (Devon Bostick). During his French class, his teacher, Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian), gives an assignment to translate the story she is speaking in French. Simon takes this a step further and turns the story, which is about a plane bombing, into a story involving him and his parents. Sabine is intrigued by this and asks him to develop is further, but not to reveal to anyone else that he is making it up. When he delivers the story in front of the class, it immediately becomes the topic of chatrooms with his high school friends, and quite a controversial one. But this is only the beginning of the story as we also learn about his parents' past.

The best way to describe "Adoration" is a fragmented tale where the pieces don't fit together very well. Egoyan has taken a few different storylines and tried to mash them together, but when they don't seem to fit, he mashes even harder. It's told slightly out of order, giving it even more of a fragmented feeling, but just because it's told out of order doesn't mean it can't work. Obvious examples where filmmakers have excelled with this tactic are "Pulp Fiction" and "The Prestige." Here, it only serves to make the story less engaging.

As far as the mashing of the pieces, it felt as though while writing the story, Egoyan started straying away from the first part of the story and started writing another, making him have to find some way to connect the two. This leads to the third act where that connection feels very forced. This is where a particular relation is mentioned, supposedly to unite the stories together, but it's recognized immediately as nothing more than a plot device.

It is this third act that feels particularly thrown together. Some random events are thrown in in an effort to bring this story to a close, or at least one of them, but Egoyan has toyed around with this part of the story so much that the audience has just stopped caring by this point. The film ends on an ambiguous note, uncertain of where our characters are going to go from there, but again, the story has failed to be engaging up to that point, so it's really hard to care.

Like "Exotica," "Adoration" also has plotlines that never seem to get flushed out. We start off with Simon making up the story about his parents being involved in a terrorist action, but it never leads to anything. The story created controversy on the internet with his friends and teachers, but that never leads anywhere either, nor does another sideplot involving Simon's mother's violin. I don't know what it is about Egoyan, but for some reason, he just doesn't know how to finish what he starts.

Another problem "Adoration" had was in its character motivations or lack thereof. At the beginning of the film, we watch as Simon creates this tale of his parents and the potential bombing of a plane, but as to why he does this, we are never sure. We are given a possible reason in flashbacks to him interviewing his grandfather, but here he seems certain that he knows who his parents were and who they weren't, making his development of this story a complete mystery.

Sabine's motivation is also a total mystery. She is the one who eggs him on to develop this story further, and even goes so far as to tell him to keep it a secret that he's making it all up. She must have known that this would obviously become controversial, so why would she want to put him through all of this, especially given what we find out about her later on in the film?

These are all problems that Egoyan should have been able to iron out while going over his screenplay as they are very noticeable and detract from an enjoyable movie-going experience. Not everything in a film has to be wrapped up in a neat little package, but when you leave that many threads hanging loose, the whole thing is bound to come unraveled. 2/4 stars.
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