Adore

By what turn of fate of freewill or deluded self-indulgence, Adore rather sincerely asks, might two attractive fortysomething women, lifelong friends and neighbors in a posh Australian beach town, decide to take each other’s sons as lovers? “They’re like young gods,” says Roz (Robin Wright) to bestie Lil (Naomi Watts) of the strapping lads, first seen magnificently maneuvering their surfboards. She’s not wrong. Plus, Lil’s a widow, and Roz’s husband (Ben Mendelsohn) has drifted away. Soon enough Lil’s son Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Roz are getting it on; Roz’s son Tom (James Frecheville), in turn, takes up with Lil. Then it gets interesting, or is meant to: The women mutually decide to keep going. It’s not only about resisting the advance of age. It’s about taking their friendship into new territory, sharing and sharing alike. The affairs continue, without judgment, for years. Of course Ian and Tom have their own lives to get on with, but will they even be able to? Adore was adapted from Doris Lessing’s novella by French director Anne Fontaine, best known for Coco Before Chanel, and writer Christopher Hampton, best known for Dangerous Liaisons. Although some of its scenario, and some of its dialogue, surely will induce laughter, the film keeps a straight face, secure in its makers’ conviction that high-toned melodrama is the best way to go about its business. Maybe they’re right. What’s shocking here is not any presumed perversity – that’s in the eye of the beholder anyway – but the degree to which Watts and Wright, each at the top of her game, together pull it off.