Human sexuality is a fascinating topic to explore on the big screen. Themes of love, lust and companionship can be constantly explored in an infinite number of ways, and they will always be relevant and relatable to the average viewer.
I personally love films that feature socially illicit sexual relationships, such as adulterous affairs, between individuals of differing social classes, and particularly, relationships between individuals with many years’ age difference. These themes in particular have been portrayed in films such as “Lolita” and “The Reader.” “Adore,” a new Australian film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, features Naomi Watts and Robin Wright in roles similar to that of Kate Winslet in her Oscar-winning 2008 performance.
Watts, who also co-produced the film, and Wright star as lifelong friends Lil and Roz who each fall in lust, and later love, with the other’s young adult son. Set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Australian seascape, the film explores the causes and effects of such relationships and the toll each takes on all involved. As both this film and its predecessors seem to suggest, such relationships, though often the most passionate, are also the most dangerous.
The film opens with a funeral for Lil’s husband, and continues with a portrayal of the budding friendship between her young son Ian (Xavier Samuel) and the stillmarried Roz’s son, Tom (James Frecheville). The two sons are later understood to be best friends as well. At the age of 18, each instigates a sexual relationship with the other’s mother.
While this plot may seem absurd or unrealistic to some, Watts’ and Wright’s impeccable performances make up for any flaws in the film’s script. Each convincingly portrays the passionate and uncontrollable love she feels for a much younger man and the conflicts that arise from such an engagement later on.
Robin Wright, perhaps best known for playing the role of love interest, Jenny, in the classic movie Forrest Gump, boasts a perfect Australian accent and does a spectacular job conveying the conflict between her love for her best friend, in addition to her concern for the well-being of her young son. Watts’ and Wright’s performances are complemented greatly by Frecheville’s and Samuel’s convincing portrayal of best friends, who both experience dramatic life changes alongside one another.
What is so unusual about this particular film’s portrayal of the older woman/younger man relationship is the pairing of two of such relationships among individuals who are understood to have known one another for their entire lives. The film contains several intimate sex scenes intensified by the unshakeable chemistry between both Watts and Frecheville, in addition to Wright and Samuel.
The film’s examination of psychological implications between motherhood and friendship is at its strongest where it suggests that perhaps the greatest gift one can give a friend is one’s own child as a lover. Lil’s and Roz’s mutual acceptance of the other’s sexual relations with their son demonstrates the depth of their friendship and the trust they have in one another.
My main flaw with this film, though, is its relaxed pace. While it appropriately parallels the many seaside scenes, there are instances where it often stalls the story at a frustrating rate. Many of the film’s most exciting moments take place in its first thirty minutes, however some of the most pivotal moments in the story also occur off screen.
Overall, however, “Adore” provides an interesting look at sexual relations and showcases the brilliance of its talented cast. Though the film is controversial in terms of its content, it succeeds in providing a thoughtful outlook on the issues behind human sexuality, youth and fidelity.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You are entertained by intense adult dramas about sexuality.