Starring: Devon Bostick, Scott Speedman, Arsinée Kahnjian
Directed by: Atom Egoya (“The Sweet Hereafter”)
Written by: Atom Egoya (“The Sweet Hereafter”)
In his new film “Adoration,” it’s never quite clear what Canadian director Atom Egoya (“The Sweet Hereafter”) is trying to say about broad topics such as terrorism, post-9/11 prejudices, and even the effect of the media on an technologically-driven society, but he sure is trying to say a lot.
While “Adoration” may push some buttons on issues that will likely be prevalent in our world forever, Egoya’s screenplay feels like a convoluted lecture in an intro to sociology college course with no syllabus. There are plenty of talking points to fill an entire semester, but is it all worth it without a meaningful objective?
It doesn’t matter much in “Adoration.” Egoya is the professor and he’s making all the rules. He begins by introducing us to Simon (Devon Bostick), a high school student who is trying to come to terms with the accidental death of his parents. Living with his once-mischievous uncle (Scott Speedman), who had to quickly grow up so he could care for his young nephew, Simon finds a way to face his own reality without expressing an ounce of truth to anyone around him.
His self-therapy begins innocently enough when his French teacher (Arsinée Kahnjian), who also teaches drama at the school, persuades him to practice his performance skills in front of the class by placing himself into a fictional story about a terrorist who hides a bomb in the luggage of his wife so he could kill passengers on an airplane headed to Israel. Actually, the story is real, but not one Simon has ever experienced.
Taking complete creative control of the narrative, Simon makes his class believe it was his father who was the terrorist and his mother the woman who boarded the plane with the bomb. He places himself in the story as the child inside his mother’s womb, whose fate would have been sealed even before he was born if it wasn’t for the inoperative bomb.
The secret class project goes viral on the Web as we watch students from Simon’s school and others around the world debating the emotional and political significance of the astonishing story, which ends up hitting a collective nerve. As Egoya builds his characters on fabrication and twists, he reveals little before the final act. When the end comes, you’d hope there would be something concrete to grab onto. Egoya, however, chooses pointless poetry over a realistic resolution.
It’s this tenacity for the ambiguous that hurts the film most of all. There is no real sense of suspense to balance out the deep-seated ideas that ultimately become empty words on a page. After listening to enough of it, who knows what to believe?