dvd let­ter­box

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film Reviews - Michael Bodey Twit­ter: @michael­bodey

I STILL don’t know what to make of the Aus­tralian-French co-pro­duc­tion Ado­ra­tion.

French di­rec­tor Anne Fon­taine and Christo­pher Hamp­ton’s adap­ta­tion of Doris Less­ing’s 2003 novella, The Grand­moth­ers, is a French film with an Aus­tralian beach set­ting. The clash of sen­si­bil­i­ties doesn’t work.

Yet DVD Let­ter­box would watch its stars Robin Wright or Naomi Watts buy­ing their own gro­ceries — hy­po­thet­i­cally, of­fi­cer — and their com­bined pres­ence, and strug­gle, in this film is more than enough to jus­tify a look.

The film was hounded dur­ing its early fes­ti­val screen­ings; hind­sight sug­gests a lit­tle un­fairly. That said, its premise, or at least Fon­taine’s in­abil­ity to deal with it in any depth, in­vited de­ri­sion.

Es­sen­tially, life­long friends Roz (Wright) and Lil (Watts) have two sons, Tom ( An­i­mal

King­dom’s James Frecheville) and Ian (Xavier Sa­muel), who grow into strap­ping young men who each take a shine to their mum’s best friend. Pas­sion, con­flict, brood­ing and em­bar­rass­ment en­sue. Cue the queue of crit­ics lin­ing up to bag

Ado­ra­tion (MA15+, Hop­scotch, 111min, $29.99). That crit­i­cism is war­ranted be­cause the film, lan­guorous and beau­ti­ful as it can be, doesn’t ad­dress the strange­ness or psy­cho­log­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions of the ar­range­ment.

Fon­taine takes the kind of “French” line of so many films pro­duced by France since the new wave: love is love and it can’t be stopped. You can talk about it but don’t at­tempt to as­sess or over-com­pli­cate it.

Ado­ra­tion, known in other mar­kets as Adore or Two Moth­ers, is a sur­pris­ingly un­com­pli­cated screen­play from Hamp­ton, who has pre­vi­ously adapted Dan­ger­ous

Li­aisons and Atone­ment for the screen be­fore work­ing with Fon­taine on 2009’s Coco Be­fore

Chanel.

The Aus­tralian beach set­ting at Seal Rocks on the NSW coast is ex­quis­ite but is al­most de­void of hu­mour or life (even the af­fairs feel me­chan­i­cal rather than com­bustible).

Which is a shame be­cause Watts is al­lur­ing and good and Wright is quiet and cred­i­ble. Sa­muel in­jects some pas­sion into his role and Ben Men­del­sohn, play­ing the hus­band whose ab­sence sparks all this malarky, breezes in and out seem­ingly bring­ing the en­ergy from an­other film.

If you’re look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle eas­ier, don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the Bri­tish feel­good movie One Chance (PG, Road­show, 103min, $29.99), based on the true story of a son of a steel­worker who longs to be an opera singer and be­comes one via the tele­vi­sion talent show Bri­tain’s Got Talent. James Cor­den drops his usual com­edy schtick from the charm­ing Bri­tish TV se­ries Gavin & Stacey to deliver a win­ning per­for­mance for di­rec­tor David Frankel ( The Devil Wears Prada). You know how it ends but it re­mains a sweet and funny en­ter­tain­ment.

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