Unsatisfying but sexed-up drama tackles controversial theme.
  • Review Date: September 3, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Amid themes of adultery and infidelity, there's a message that friendships require commitment and honest communication.

Positive role models

Roz and Lil are loyal to each other, sometimes to their detriment. They also, at least when their kids were younger, seemed to be attentive, thoughtful mothers.


Some loud arguments; a surfing accident is shown, with the man wiping out and hitting rocks.


Several scenes in which couples are shown having sex, sometimes with their backsides exposed. Viewers don't see genitalia, but sex acts are simulated.


Liberal use of "f--k," plus "s--t" and one "c--t."


Toyota, Apple, and Saab all make appearances.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Mothers drink with their college-aged sons (they're under 21 for most of the movie), sometimes to the point of inebriation. Some cigarette smoking.

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.

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

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  • Why do you think Roz and Lil decide to be involved with each other's sons? Is this a breach of trust?
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Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 6, 2013
DVD release date:December 10, 2013
Cast:James Frecheville, Naomi Watts, Robin Wright Penn, Xavier Samuel
Director:Anne Fontaine
Studio:Exclusive Media
Run time:111 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexual content and language

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bywonder dove October 14, 2013

Loved it!

First of all, Commonsense has the characters' name's mixed up in the review (Tom is Roz's son and Ian is Lil's son.) I highly enjoyed this movie! I wasn't expecting much out of it, but actually loved the story. It was dramatic, heartbreaking & beautiful. The accents were good, actors did amazing. Lots of beach settings with surfing and swimming. It takes off with two normal fun-loving mothers who are best friends since childhood and take care of each other. They each have a son who are also best friends, Tom & Ian. When the surfer boys grow up into handsome young adults, Ian finally comes forward about his true feelings of love for Tom's mother Roz (Robin Wright) who is married and makes the first move by kissing her. She responds by kissing him back but you can tell she feels way over her head about it. When Tom quickly finds out and becomes upset, he kisses Ian's single mother Lil (Naomi Watts) for revenge, but realizes that he too is attracted to Ian's mom although doesn't share the same deep-down love that Ian has for Roz. When the two mother's discuss what is happening, they both confess that there's no reason to stop because they've never been happier. But when Tom goes to Sydney for a couple of months for education purposes, he meets another woman his age. From there, things change dramatically between both couples and everyone else around them. The scenery of Australia is absolutely breath-taking! The story is very engaging! Language is not frequent but does have one use of f-ing c**t, some uses of the f-word and also sh*t. Violence includes one fight in the water where a character bites a guy's leg, a surfer wipes out and hits rocks underwater, some arguments. Sexual content has passionate kissing, three sex scenes (partial nudity- mainly character's butts but no sensitive areas shown) it's passionate - includes one scene standing up, one scene in bed (girl on top) and one quick one on what looks like a chair. A woman lays naked but only her butt is shown. Characters are seen in bikinis. There is some flirting by a man at work who says he loves Lil before making a wrong assumption that she's a lesbian due to her close knit with Roz. Characters smoke quite a bit and drink with one scene of getting drunk but it's not emphasized. Content is okay for 16/17 and up!!!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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