What would you do if you found out your father may have been a terrorist? A high school boy writes a story for class that makes this claim. Is it true? Friends, family, teachers and internet chat-room partners start to wonder and worry. Now he must journey through a maze of family secrets to find the truth about his dead father. From Academy Award®-nominated director Atom Egoyan (1997, Best Director, The Sweet Hereafter) comes a story of a young man who must question everything he knows in order to learn who he is and who his father was. Adoration presents a world where there is no such thing as us versus them and the truth is never as simple as right and wrong.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
What would you do if you found out your father might have been a terrorist?
A misleading tag line, to be sure. Terrorism may play a part in the story of 'Adoration,' but not in the manner in which the box art would have you believe. The relevance of finding out a dead loved one was a terrorist is nowhere near as significant as the accusation of such misdeeds by a family, for attention. Perhaps the phrase "attention whoring doesn't always fix the problem" was too negative a tag, despite being far more truthful.
When Simon (Devon Bostick) is given an assignment to translate a French language article about a foiled terrorist attack on an Israeli plane, he takes a different route, writing from the perspective of the unborn child of the woman who unknowingly carried the bomb onto the plane. The woman did not know her boyfriend had planted the bomb in her luggage until the attempted bombing was stopped. After reading Simon's story, his teacher, Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian), who doubles as the school drama instructor, encourages him to take his story and run with it, passing it off as his own. When chatter from students hits the internet, the story takes on a life of its own, reaching all ranges of people, affecting them in different ways.
But what is the truth behind Simon's father? We know what his grandfather thinks of the man, calling him a killer, but is that true? Simon's uncle Tom (Scott Speedman), who has raised the youth since Simon's parents died, knows the truth, but feels partially responsible for the ordeal. Simon's journey of self discovery, inspired by fiction, may be far more painful and stigmatizing than the tale of terrorism he envisioned.
'Adoration' is amazingly easy to follow, despite being told through a fractured time line, with various moments in the past cut throughout the film, from as far back as when Simon's parents meet, to the events of the story. The present time, where each character is dealing with the repercussions, is nowhere near as prioritized, or important, as the events that lead up to it, the polar opposite of Simon's tale.
The film covers a wide range of topics, all of which lead back to the same ideal: acceptance of others. From the scenes covering the tolerances and prejudices of characters and their interactions, to the many covering Simon's humanization of a man considered inhuman due to his actions, the story weaves around the tale, much like Oscar winner 'Crash,' only in a more subtle fashion.
The growth of technology in terms of a communication tool is one of the vital storytelling points in the film, with internet chats replacing interpersonal dialogue. This creates a somewhat unusual situation, where no student approaches Simon about his tale, save for over the net, along with a group of other students. If they were so enamored with the complexities of the tale, why would they never discuss it in person? This paradox is quite lush, when coupled with the controversy concerning humanizing a villain, by dehumanizing the voices of those who object.
'Adoration' lives and dies by the performances as much as the believability of the tale, and the cast does a solid job of bringing this fascinating (if not convenient) tale to life. Speedman is light years beyond his performances in the 'Underworld' films, bringing depth to one of the most vital, yet least developed, characters. Rachel Blanchard and Noam Jenkins are great in their flashbacks as Simon's deceased parents, while Khanjian steals the show on a few occasions, playing the part of the most surprisingly layered character in the film. Her link to Simon may be a bit hard to believe, and come a bit out of nowhere, but that doesn't take away from the strength of the performance she provides.
'Adoration' is an art house film in the truest sense of the term, a multi-faceted character study that shakes its left hand in front of your face to distract you from the impending sucker punch from the right. The story is a bit less than believable, but it remains entertaining for a variety of reasons. Writer/director Atom Egoyan has crafted a tale worthy of praise.
'Adoration' looks great on Blu-ray, with an AVC MPEG-4 encode at 1.78:1 in 1080p.
Detail is sharp in clothing, but not too specific in deeper shots, with no real stand out sequences, no "wow" moments of clarity. The sharpest bit of detail comes in the clarity of a unibrow, and that's no joke, but the detail in hair, from strays to fades in shade, is superb. The picture has a healthy, realistic three dimensional feel, with a healthy grain to ground the picture in reality. Black levels are strong, with excellent delineation, with even the tiniest objects on roofs being visible through the pitch black night sky. Skin tones vary, but the entire color scheme changes when transitioning between timelines. There were some small bits of dirt and scratches that pop up every so often, but they're miniscule. There are no signs of manipulation in the source, ensuring that this transfer, while not spectacular, is true to its source and a pleasant watch.
The audio for 'Adoration,' by way of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, is quite nice, but obviously restricted by the source.
Dialogue, the driving factor of the film, is clear throughout, cleanly prioritized, and never drowned out by ambiance or score elements. The webcam chat segments were very impressive, as numerous voices speaking at once all stand out clearly... if anything, it sounds too clear considering how many voices are speaking at once through laptop speakers. The burqua seen in two sequences jingles and jangles constantly, ever so quietly, just as a light breeze can be heard from time to time. The score, fittingly by violin, is powerful and crystal clear through every channel. Surround speaker activity is sparse, but there are a few good sequences with cars passing through channels at a rapid pace. LFE is rarely present, save for one vital sequence in the film. My biggest complaint would be that there were a few sequences where dialogue had a feedback undertone that was quite distracting, but otherwise a very solid mix for a film of this sort.
Those not big on English can view the film with a lossy Spanish dub or a lossless Portuguese track. There are no French options on the disc, dub or sub.
Here's where things get ugly. For as many extras as there are, there should have been something at least informative and unique, but instead, it's Pete and Repeat, and Repeat again.
- The Making of 'Adoration' (SD, 12 min) - Thoughts on the themes of the film, from terrorism, to the passing on of tales on one's deathbed, to the need for attention. Also provides character insights from the actors.
- Interview with Atom Egoyan (SD, 23 min) - The director sits down and discusses the film as an analogy for communication, his thoughts on using technology to tell his tale, and looking to the future of the ever evolving machines, teens and the internet and the lack of inhibitions when expressing oneself, the duality of humanity, and the change of cinema from film to digital. A bizarre piece, that just might be brilliant.
- The Violin Shop (SD, 9 min) - A behind the scenes look at crafting shots in a particular set in the film. A nice look at the production of the film, and their efforts as a whole, focusing on the crew filming, rather than the actors being filmed.
- Take Three (SD, 20 min) - Has the thought of having three people simulating a webcam conversation worn thin yet through the film and the rest of the extras? Here's another one.
- Passengers (SD, 20 min) - Another set of mock webcam conversations, this time taking on the angle of those who were to have been passengers on the plane in question, or pretending to be. Beating a dead horse here. I get the point, but after this much exposure, the point of these interviews gets annoying rather than intriguing. Why not some more features on the idea of the film, rather than the storytelling device?
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 7 min) - Sony really has to stop this practice of having deleted scenes playing one at a time on a play all feature, with the credits rolling between each scene. It would be fine if I were just watching for fun, but the progress bar for length resets with each and every scene, putting my math skills in question in addition to my writing. Oh, yeah, the deleted scenes. Some more debate over the storytelling, problems with humanizing a killer, and some name calling between debaters. Nothing all too important.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 min) - The theatrical trailer for the film.
- Previews (HD) - A generic BD promo, and trailers for 'Moon,' 'The Damned United,' 'The Class,' and 'It Might Get Loud.'
'Adoration' certainly cast its spell on me, as I found plenty of enjoyment to be found in the characters and twisted, splintered tale, however flawed it may be. This Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Classics is solid, with good video and audio qualities, but some very repetitive extras that just sap the enjoyment right out of the film. Easily recommended for drama fans.
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