A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Adore is an ultimately unsatisfying indie drama (based on a story by Doris Lessing) about a friendship that spans from childhood to adulthood. The movie deals with mature themes, including adultery, infidelity, and sex (frequent but not overly graphic; backsides are shown, but no fronts) between couples who are decades apart in age and, more important, know each other almost like family. It may be too confusing for younger teens and tweens. Expect plenty of swearing (particularly "f--k"), as well as cigarette smoking and some drinking, including by characters who are in college but not yet 21.
What's the story?
Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts) have been friends since they were little, keeping each other company in a picturesque Australian town by the ocean. When Lil loses her husband in an accident, Roz takes on the extra duty of helping Lil care for her young son, Ian, who's the same age as her own child, Tom. But as they grow up, the lines blur among the foursome. Now young men, Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Tom (James Frecheville) have become attracted to each other's mothers. Tom crosses the line first, kissing Roz, who reciprocates despite being married. Then Ian, angry at having discovered the tryst between his best friend and his mother, makes a play for Lil, who's hungry for his attentions. But how can this all last? And should it?
Is it any good?
Director Anne Fontaine goes out of her way to bathe nearly every frame of ADORE in beautiful light and colors; the sea by which this seaside town sits is as much a part of the movie as the actors. It ebbs and flows like time and bears witness to the passions that unfold. But all that beauty can't take away from the illicit and uncomfortable couplings that are at the heart of the story.
Both Roz and Lil fall for men whom they helped raise, acting as their secondary mothers. Given this set up, you'd expect the story to forge ahead with tension and momentum, but no. Wright and Watts try to infuse their roles with gravitas and complexity, but the script is leaden, and the young actors playing their sons are wooden. What could have been an exploration of the surprising, destabilizing nature of love ends up seemingly more about romp and circumstance and not much else. Doris Lessing's story, which inspired the movie, deserves so much more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays sex. Is it meaningful? How does it impact the relationships in the movie? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Are May-December love affairs doomed from the start? What is the movie's stand on the idea?
- Why do you think Roz and Lil decide to be involved with each other's sons? Is this a breach of trust?
- In theaters: September 6, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: December 10, 2013
- Cast: James Frecheville, Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel
- Director: Anne Fontaine
- Studio: Exclusive Media
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content and language
- Last updated: February 7, 2020
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