Adore (aka Adoration aka Two Mothers)
1h 52 min, Australia | France, 2013
Someone somewhere said this was melodrama. I think they should go back and watch Imitation of Life.
What this is, is a pretty and mildly titillating sexual drama focusing on two lifelong — and it must be said, because no one else will, very well-off — best friends who end up fucking each other’s sons.
It also struck me as very gay (and that’s the same thing as melodrama for some straight people) in that, not only does the film go out of its way to show the boys as Shirtless Young Gods In the Surf, while carefully avoiding stating their ages, but it’s strongly suggested that the two women are using the boys as proxies for fucking each other (and for holding on to their youth). Cept, they’re not lezos! (Apparently that word is still common in Australia?)
The real betrayal comes, after all, when one of the women, Lil, sneaks around with Tom, without telling Roz or I’ll-never-forgive-you-for-this Ian, after they’d all agreed to stop. It’s all four or nothing for these folks, which they hold up as a deeply personal and group-held morality. There are obsessions here, intermixed with transgressive sexual mores, but the tone of the movie never managed to compel me to take it seriously. Some real melodrama might have helped the lack of conviction.
Compare the simmering hysteria accompanying these depictions of adult women fucking “underage” boys (underage in Australia, I guess, not in most of Europe) in this movie (and something reactionary like the art film, The Teacher) with the complete acceptance of the relationship between an older man and younger man in Call Me By Your Name, and you see how far we’ve come. Or if you’re James Woods, how far we’ve fallen. Of course, boys in films like these are always on the cusp of manhood, usually 17, so that our panties won’t be quite so twisted.
I haven’t read the book, but the film seems hampered by the form of its source, and strains within 90 minutes to hit the character beats and life-events that are supposed to create what might be rich characters in some other work of art. It doesn’t, quite, but I wasn’t bored.
Side note: Xavier Samuel, who played Ian in Adore, was also in a gay-themed short called Drowning, contained in the omnibus, Boys on Film 6: Pacific Rim. The compilation itself is one of the weakest in the series, but Drowning is not bad.