Written by Anne Fontaine and Christopher Hampton
Directed by Anne Fontaine
“It was just important for us to know it hadn’t gone away. That it was still alive. Christ, I felt like I would suffocate if I didn’t have it.“
Where do the boundaries lie between family, friends, and lovers? Does age factor into love? Do familial ties that are not actually family factor in? What happens when lines are crossed? Can anything ever go back to the start?
These are questions that initially came to me while watching the Film Adore, that I am going to delve into further here for Monday Movies.
I came into this film not knowing the premise at all beyond two friends growing up together and raising their songs somewhat together. That is certainly the start. Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts) have been best friends since they were young girls. They live nearly next door to one another, even as they are now married adults with young sons. The film opens with a visual introduction to Roz and Lil as children, then leads up to the present day, where we see Lil and her son Ian at a funeral for Lil’s husband/Ian’s father.
They live nearly next door to one another, even as they are now married adults with young sons. The film opens with a visual introduction to Roz and Lil as children, then leads up to the present day, where we see Lil and her son Ian at a funeral for Lil’s husband/Ian’s father.
Lil and Ian continue to live next door to Roz and her husband and their son Tom. The boys become best friends and we watch as they grow into young men.
Lines are crossed when Ian develops feelings for Roz and Roz for Ian. To be honest, Roz and Ian are the only romance in this I believed. Well, that and Roz and Lil, who I think had a lifelong love that transcended all the other relationships at play.
Without giving too much of the plot away, Lil and Tom get involved. Roz and Ian continue to be involved. And yes, complications ensue. There was an uncomfortable element to all of it that played at taboos and incest (though there was no actual incest here), but I do think that it is the societal morality that made for the moments of uncomfortableness. If you can push past that, there is an interesting and thought-provoking story at play here.
All that said, though, I do wish we had a little more individual character development, especially for Lil and Tom. I felt like I knew Roz and Ian so much better, but then again maybe that was due to me liking the two of them so much better. I’m not sure.
The Film never seemed gratuitous to me. There was never a moment where it felt scintillating just to be such, nor was this a tale of a so-called Cougar and her young lover, or in this case plural. It was more complex, and complicated than that, though it could have very well slipped into the paperback romance zone. I believed in these characters, and felt for them, even when I was watching between half-covered eyes because I knew disaster was bound to happen.
There is a lot of questions in this about intimacy and connection, of morality, of boundaries and limits, and love. I have some theories on what transpires between these four people, and some hows and whys that seem to ring true to me, but they are only from my perspective and interpretation, and not based on anything that is actually revealed in the film. Again, I am hesitant at revealing too much story here, but I do think the closeness and intimacy between Roz and Lil is a huge part of what fuels the love affairs that go on between the two women and each other’s sons.
I think gender plays a huge role here, too. If Lil and Roz had been men, and Ian and Tom young women, I don’t think the perceived uncomfortableness and secretiveness would have been so heavy. Or, it may not have happened at all, which raises another set of societal morality to question and consider.
This is also seen through what has been called the “Female Gaze”, which also begs to ask the question would it be described as “troubling” “complicated” “challenging” (all words nicked from movie reviews) if the older women had been men, and the younger guys been girls. Would it have been considered “provocative” (another nicked adjective) to see half-naked young women, as it seems to be ere to see half-naked young men?
There really is so much to consider here.
This is not an easy film to watch, but I think it’s worth the challenge it takes to really open up your mind and take it all in. It requires some thinking, some unpacking, and some feeling of what you get out of it – and it definitely requires a setting aside of norms of society, especially in terms of age, boundaries, and relationships.