Soaking in Atom Egoyan's `Adoration', I sit here wondering if my analysis is really all that accurate. The film, while flawed in my eyes, is so controversially provocative that I wonder if it is `better' than I'm giving it credit for. It may very well be. I have a feeling that `Adoration' will fare the same way as Van Sants `Elephant'; a film that resonates deeply with me over time yet always feels like a film I should consider a masterpiece can't quite bring myself to.
The film revolves around a kid named Simon who concocts a strange plan to deceive his entire school by placing himself inside a real life story about a failed terrorist plot. When doing an exercise in French class, he gets inspired and begins to translate a news story in the first person, from the perspective of the son of a man who attempted to blow up a plane. His teacher, who also happens to be the drama teacher, eggs him on until he invests so much of himself into this story that it begins to become his reality.
What it spawns it pretty phenomenal.
The first three quarters of the film is pretty great. What happens once Simon's `fake story' goes viral is controversially chilling; watching people become sucked into this faux reality, living a tragedy that never really happened but now happened inside their minds because it has a face and a name now. Watching Simon begin to test the waters with his `humanizing' the tragedy by placing the title `father' on the face of a killer can raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
It's a gigantic set up, which may be the reason why the big `reveal' seems underwhelming. This is where I am torn. Last night while I was watching the film I felt agitated that the ending was so anticlimactic, but this morning the ending carries a heavier weight with me, since it subtly brings the film to an intimate place.
It makes it feel real.
Yes, I found Sabine's revelation to feel a tad forced and maybe even clichéd (after it was revealed it felt lazily expected) but upon reflection the actual ending, while a tad too sympathetic for the tones of the film, seemed appropriate. It did seem like an odd diversion from the apparent focus of the films first half, which gave `Adoration' an air of disconnect, but overall it lays well on one another. Like I said, this is a film that will bother me for some time to come.
The acting here is rather superb. The mood presented is also very well captured. I had issues with the handling of the flashbacks, for the music used and the color palate presented gave it almost a soap opera feel, which felt cheap and campy at times. I also felt that the films constant time shifts were very confusing in the beginning. It all panned out in the end, but it took a while to get the drift of what was being presented.
Still, `Adoration' is a haunting piece of modern filmmaking that does justice to Egoyan's name and talent (his '97 masterpiece, `The Sweet Hereafter', is one of the best films ever made; EVER). It will challenge you, and that is what all good films do. I also want to discredit the claims that this film is preachy. It is anything but. The film very subtly allows the audience to invest themselves in multiple sides of a story and try to understand the viewpoints of others without taking sides once. That is a feat unattained by many but completely attained by Egoyan here.