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Adoration [DVD] 
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In Atom Egoyan s best film since The Sweet Hereafter, Sabine, a high school French teacher, gives her class a translation exercise based on a real news story about a terrorist who plants a bomb in the airline luggage of his pregnant girlfriend. A chain of unexpected events ensues. Adoration speaks to our connections---with each other, with our family history, with technology and with the modern world.
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The central idea of the film is a fascinating one that immediately and persuasively draws the viewer in. Inspired by an article read out in class for French dictation, a 15 year-old student, Simon, has invented a story about his Arab father sending his mother on a plane to Israel with a bomb at a time when she was pregnant with him. His French teacher encourages Simon to expand on the story as a piece for her drama class, but crucially, without telling anyone that the story is a work of fiction. The incident sparks off a debate between the boy's fellow students and among the teaching profession, but it is also to have wider repercussions.
It's an interesting situation made all the more intriguing for the manner in which the director presents it, following several strands and including flashbacks, some of which may be real, others clearly invented, the debate taking place largely in the virtual medium of internet chat-rooms. All of this of course raises questions on the subjective nature of truth, impure motivations and the difficulty of establishing facts much less the truth. Even if the story Simon tells is false, is there not an underlying truth to it, and, since it gets people talking, does it even matter whether it is true or not? On the other hand, is just talking about it enough?
At times, the covering of these issues seems a little ...not so much didactic, confrontational or provocative (although it is all of these to a lesser extent), as much as rhetorical - not looking for answers as much as raising questions related to the world today and our response towards it. Crucially however, Adoration never diminishes the human question, relating it to real feelings towards of grief and bereavement, stemming from the tragedy of inexplicable deaths, and the wider impact this has on a community - bringing the film very much in line with Egoyan's Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter (not least in a significant bus accident here).
Adoration doesn't quite carry its premise through entirely satisfactorily, in the end revealing much that should be left ambiguous and over-burdening it with symbolism (the destruction of electronic media, the joining and separation of the scroll from the violin), but while it may be overly methodical and too deliberately paced for some viewers, the film is never less than intelligent, provocative and intriguing in its treatment of relevant modern-day issues.
New Wave's UK DVD release is well-presented, with an clean enhanced 16:9 widescreen image as well as a 2.0 and subtly effective 5.1 audio mix. The film is in English and there are no subtitle or hard-of-hearing options. Extras include the Trailer and an 18 minute interview with the director.
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accessibility of this film. It seems some of Egoyan's rough
edges have been finally smoothed out. Gone, finally, are some
of the annoying self-conscious, self-artful and self-proclamatory
iconoclasm of The Adjuster and Exotica and Sweet Hereafter.
With each new film, Egoyan matures and lessens (thankfully not
all at once and so abruptly) some of the self-conscious film school
hokum that plagues his early films (particularly the Adjuster)
though not to the extent of rendering his earlier films
unwatchable or lacking in cinematic quality. This seems
to be a Canadian thing; I have noticed that David Cronenberg
has followed almost exactly the same trajectory in the maturation
of his films over time (and I am as much a big fan of Cronenberg
as I am Egoyan).
This film does rather insist that you try and dispense with
pre-conceived notions and prejudices and is one of the most
effective films in fact in presenting the thesis that the
'enemy' (e.g., Arabs, Muslims, etc.) are capable of humanity
and subtlety and intellectual accomplishment. What separates
this film from more transparent ideological films is that
this film tries to emphasize global humanity without subtracting
from any particular group or protagonist (or self-proclaimed
protagonist). If I had one criticism (without giving away
the whole plot), I might say that towards the end of the film,
I am not sure Egoyan is completely neutral and un-PC and does
seem to take sides with a pro-multiculturalism philosophy,
though in fairness to Egoyan I do not believe he takes ethnic
sides (in this film anyway) with any particular party to
the various conflicts in the Middle-East (one suspects
his vagabond Armenian background-having to move around
alot-and the precarious positions Armenians have sometimes
found themselves in the Middle-East, has greatly influenced
his political and social views-this film seems to play
some of these out, but in a subtle and non-judgemental way).
One CAN leave viewing this film maintaining one's prejudices
without having felt like they were ideologically assaulted from
opposing viewpoints because to his credit, Egoyan is asking us to
think and is not condescending to us in this film ("Agree with
me or you are an idiot..."-Are you listening Oliver Stone ?)
which in itself is rare among Directors. Kudos to Egoyan
in asking us to think but respecting us anyway, even if
we choose not to.
This film is especially well-edited, filmed, scored and
plotted even by the usual high standards of Egoyan films.
As I mentioned above, the film is more straightforward
than some of his earlier films which, like The Adjuster,
were terribly hokie and self-conscious. This film is not.
It is beautiful, well-acted, simple, artful and thoughtful
and well worth the cost of seeing it at the cinema
or purchasing the well-made DVD transfer.