Rated: R for sexual content and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: September 6, 2013 Released by: Exclusive Media
Naomi Watts and Robin Wright headline an issue-oriented suggestive tale (set in a sun-drenched Australian surfing community) hinging on emotions like jealousy and infatuation around a strong familial connective tissue. A low-burner of a drama, Adore, once entitled Two Mothers, is a tricky but not so revelatory of a quadrangle as it implies in not so easy, hardly didactic fashion. The challenge of the material crafted by the esteemed Christopher Hampton imbued with "sun-kissed" passion by French helmer Anne Fontaine (making her English-language debut) is something that these talented middle-aged actresses wholeheartedly embrace in what amounts to an ineffective episodic examination of friendship.
A widow Lil (Watts) and true best friend art curator Roz (Wright, who is hot now on NetFlix opposite Kevin Spacey and Kate Mara) see their early 20ish sons Ian (Xavier Samuel of Twilight Saga: Eclipse) and Tom (James Frecheville of Animal Kingdom) as "young gods" riding the waves. The well-toned physicality has set in when Roz's drama mentor husband (Ben Mendelsohn also of Animal Kingdom) relocates to Sydney seemingly allowing Ian to get romantic with Roz. An eavesdropping Tom then begins to make nice with Lil who is a little more resistant than her closest confidante. At least for a while.
Fontaine tries to make the most out of things like facial expression before subtlety gives way to acting on desire and impulse and the effects on what has blossomed with further infatuation that the Doris Lessing novella (on which this is based) 'The Grandmothers' did with more viable raw sensitivity. Wright and especially Watts (very good in The Impossible and earlier 21 Grams) know how to shade complexity into taboo unions but aren't nearly balanced by the handsome but vaguer Frecheville and Samuel who manage to imbue some relevant character charm. Some of the line-readings inadvertently come across badly as the mothers and sons are cognizant of their behavior.
An emotional touch is intended from a trenchant premise but the filmmakers (Fontaine and Hampton don't really seem to be operating on the same frequency) don't really grasp the off-putting, risible approach without real antagonists leaving palpably bright, honest gritty authenticity out of the equation. Maybe a few on the distaff side will identify in some way with a kind of sensibility that may seem grown up but goes bad quickly from rumors and the long term in what could be a limpid "Summer Lovers" down under.