Adore Review: Naomi Watts And Robin Wright As Reluctant Rebel Moms In Love

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As one reviewer has remarked about French director Anne Fontaine’s Adore, if the romantic drama were about two fathers instead of mothers having love affairs with one another’s teenage sons, it would have been utterly scandalous. And likely not made at all. But maybe that’s the point.

Not that similarly beyond strange sexual enticements haven’t happened even in real life. As with the all in the family Woody Allen weirdness that stoked tabloid headlines for quite some time beginning in 1992, when the acclaimed director secretly hooked up with partner and mother of his child Mia Farrow’s adopted teen daughter Soon-Yi Previn. But Adore seems to be as much about subversively unconventional storytelling, as the ways in which warped gender thinking rules in contemporary society.

Naomi Watts and Robin Wright star as two childhood friends in Adore – originally titled Two Mothers – now living in an idyllic Australian coastal town, and a widow and soon to be divorced woman respectively. Both seemingly more into their friendship with one another than any interest in men, the pair eventually drift into sexual relationships with each other’s adolescent male single child offspring (Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville), who also grew up as childhood companions.

Yet what is depicted in Adore, adapted by UK screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Atonement, A Dangerous Method) is oddly pensive and neither tawdry nor salacious. The women are troubled throughout by their uncontrollable desires, and the boys appear likewise imprisoned by their irrepressibly defiant, unorthodox feelings of initial lust evolving into consuming affection and love.

So what might British author Doris Lessing, who penned the original work in her eighties, have been up to with this not entirely convincing tale. Though on another, more metaphorical level, could it be that Lessing and by extension Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel), are into shaking up narrative conventions, and the biased gender perspectives of envied male ‘stud’ versus condemned female ‘cougar’ in Western society.

And on that level, there’s much meaty food for thought, even if a bit philosophically tough and raw to chew on when at its most visually lyrical. Or on the other hand, as Woody Allen – who later married the nearly four decades younger Soon-Yi – so mystifyingly put it, ‘the heart wants what it wants.’

Adore will be released by Paramount Home Media Distribution (PHMD) on VOD beginning September 6th, the same day the film will debut in theaters from Exclusive Media. In addition to VOD, PHMD will be distributing the film on disc and via digital platforms in the US and the UK. PHMD will also handle all TV licensing in the UK and basic cable sales in the US.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.