Adoration is one of those low-budget, low-profile films that garner critical acclaim, but fail to make enough of an impact on modern ADHD audiences to earn a wide release and ultimately slip under the radar. I personally hadn’t heard of the film until recently even though it was in theaters only six months ago. It’s a shame that Adoration didn’t get more recognition because it really is a beautiful, though challenging, little film with a uniquely structured story and powerful message. Hopefully it receives the adoration it deserves with its Blu-Ray release.
For a high school French assignment, Simon (Devon Bostick) creates a dramatic monologue in which he describes the events of a failed suicide bombing attempt as though he were the son of the terrorist involved. The realism of his performance piece stirs controversy, but also unearths his own unresolved past involving the deaths of both his parents. Now living with his bitter, but caring uncle Tom (Scott Speedman), Simon, with help from his French teacher Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian), struggles to figure out what kind of man his father was through discourse on the nature of religious martyrdom, cultural intolerance, and love.
Adoration employs complex storytelling, jumping around to various scenes occurring at different moments in the timeline of the story. It’s almost structured like a puzzle in a way, so that each appropriate piece of the story is revealed until the complete picture is formed. It plays with your expectations on multiple levels and prevents you from predicting where the story will go. It might be difficult to follow for some viewers, but by doing this, director Atom Egoyan maintains a shroud of mystery through most of the film as we, like the main character Simon, try to piece together the circumstances surrounding the death of his parents as well as understand who the antagonist of the film really is. Tom and Sabine also become central characters in the story as their lives become entangled in ways deeper than they at first realize. I don’t want to give too much away regarding the plot because that’s precisely what makes this film so intriguing, but by examining how Simon, Tom, and Sabine come to terms with their family history, the director is able to explore the ways in which religion, love, and technology have the capacity to both divide and unite us.
I found Adoration to be, for the most part, pitch-perfect; the story is heartbreaking without being melodramatic and hopeful without being overly sentimental. The performances are tonally on mark and the refined cinematography gives the film a somber, but never depressing, look. My only real complaint, though it’s more of an opinion really, is that the sequences involving the discussions on terrorism via webcam chats tend to get a little tedious and pretentious after a while. But hey, maybe it’s just me. With that said, Adoration exceeded my expectations in nearly every way and proved to be one of the best dramas I’ve seen in the last year.
Though there is a slight grain visible throughout the film, the 1080p 1.78:1 transfer is remarkably sharp and full of detail. Colors appear somewhat muted, but that’s mostly due in part to the soft, subtle lighting used to set the mood of the film. Nearly every outdoor scene is cloudy and every indoor scene dimly lit, so the colors don’t exactly pop, but that’s a good thing within the context of the story.
The soundtrack is modest, comprised mostly of melancholy violins and other string instruments, but is incredibly emotional and relevant given the significance of the violin that appears in the story. Since the film is mostly dialogue driven, the DTS HD MA 5.1 lossless audio doesn’t really come across as memorable, with the exception of one booming explosion towards the end of the film. However, it’s perfectly acceptable for this kind of cerebral drama where less is definitely more.
When a Blu-ray says “And Much More!” on the back cover because it ran out of room listing all the special features, you know you’re going to get your money’s worth. There’s plenty here to adore with over 100 minutes of behind the scenes footage and featurettes. Most of it is enlightening, especially if you were in any way confused by the narrative or themes at play in the film. Egoyan is a smart guy and explains his motivations and intentions very succinctly. Included extras:
- The Making of Adoration
- Interview with director Atom Egoyan
- The Violin Shop – Behind the scenes of filming the Violin Shop scene
- The Fabulous Picture Show – A focus group Q&A with the director
- Take Three and Passengers – Extended webcam chat footage
- Six Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailer
It’s impossible to watch any of the interviews and not gather from it a greater appreciation for Adoration and its director Atom Egoyan. Do yourself a favor and watch some of them. They don’t call them “special” for nothing.
Adoration is the kind of movie that reminds you film can be art. It’s easy to forget sometimes with all the processed, repackaged McMovies that dare to call themselves films, but every now and then a director like Egoyan makes you excited for what the cinema is capable of. An engaging and poignant meditation on religion, family, technology, and love, Adoration is an expertly constructed, uniquely beautiful film that would make an excellent addition to anyone’s Blu-ray collection.