2009-09-25 12:08

What it's about:

For his French-class assignment, a high school student weaves his family history in a news story involving terrorism, and goes on to invite an Internet audience in on the resulting controversy. |

What we thought:

Movies about teenagers have changed. Once they spoke to their friends in their bedrooms, or in burger joints. But Simon communicates over the web in a public chatroom.

Sometimes he engages. Sometimes he walks away, allowing the debate to develop without him. Sometimes he just lurks. Occasionally he stokes the fire or defends himself. And in virtual reality, strangers and friends live out imaginary lives through the fictional event Simon has created. Those who've never been attacked imagine they were the victims. Nazis praise the terrorist's actions. Simon's best female friend rejects him for his standpoint. Realities collide in public, streaming in from the privacy of each person's home computer.

It's sometimes hard to tell what Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan intends as real, and what allegorical - what's knowledge, what's belief, and what's lies. And are we looking at chat rooms of different groupings; different threads of the same topic? Or is this just a representation of the debate?

Adoration gives the term "psychological thriller" a whole new meaning. No character remains who they seemed at first to be, while the aftertaste of everyone they could have been also lingers.

This makes Adoration a tricky acting gig. The characters mostly come through bravely, while (with the exception perhaps of Simon's dead parents) most narrowly sidestep the trap of becoming mere archetypes. All reveal the child inside of them. 

Egoyan plays skilfully with different perspectives – those of Simon's angry but upstanding uncle Tom (Scott Speedman), his dead parents, his two-faced grandfather, and his strange teacher Sabine. We find that everyone is a different person to each person, and that everyone has their secrets and cover stories. Exploring denial, over-imagination and the way we adopt, see, and make assumptions about identities, Adoration throws light on some truths, and dark over others.

You're left realising what anyone who’s ever written for the web knows to be true: once you put a story out there, it's no longer yours. It belongs whoever chooses to reinterpret it, insert themselves into it, or even rewrite it.

What makes a story true? What justifies a violent action? And whose reality is it anyway?

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