ADORE (formerly titled, and for the better, I think, Two Mothers), Fontaine (pictured at left) and her writing collaborator Christopher Hampton take on Doris Lessing's novella, The Grandmothers. In the film two women, best friends who have grown up together since early childhood and have now seen each other through the death of one's husband and the upcoming separation from the other's, begin affairs with each other's adult son. This happens fairly early in the film and you cannot discuss the movie intelligently, I think, without also giving away at least this spoiler. How and why each couple's affair begins, however, is quite different, and that difference is what makes the film work--and very well indeed.
Robin Wright (above, left) and Naomi Watts (above, right), both of whom are at the top of their game these days. They are partnered surprisingly well by two young hunks who can also act -- Xavier Samuel (below, right, as Lil's son, Ian) and James Frecheville, (below, left, as Roz's son, Tom) -- both of whom prove adept at double duty, playing at once sons and lovers. We expect this sort of skill from actors as seasoned as Wright and Watts, but Samuel and Frecheville, though called upon to feel and understand less, due to their callow youth, match the women in precisely the right way.
Ben Mendelsohn (above, right), who acted opposite Mr. Frecheville in 2010's Animal Kingdom. Harold's acceptance of a better job in Sydney gives the foursome the space and freedom they need to further bond. Only when son Tom is also offered the opportunity to do some theater in Sydney do cracks begin to form in the quartet's little slice of perfection. (That's Jessica Tovey -- below, right -- playing a late-comer to our little group, and it's a mark of how extreme the situation and provocation of Ms Fontaine's film that it is an actress who begins an affair with her theater director who acts as our stand-in for conventional society.)
Bait, and had a nice supporting role in Anonymous, registers here as strongly as I've yet seen. As for Mr. Frecheville, right, you'll hardly recognize him from either Animal Kingdom or his odd-but-effective turn in the under-seen The First Time. I suspect this young actor is a lot more versatile than we first imagined.
The Ledge had on those who must insistently believe in the existence of a god.
Graham Greene might have called it): a movie that is sensual, sexual and surprising, featuring beautiful people in a setting gorgeous enough to take one's breath away. For this alone, it's must viewing. And all those thoughtful provocations? Think of Adore as a lovely, fresh-fruit cocktail laced with Aquavit.
Exclusive Media -- opens across the country this Friday, September 6, in theaters and on VOD. Click here, then scroll down, to locate the theater nearest you.