Directed by Atom Egoyan
Atom Egoyan's latest cinematic onion — you know, peel back the layers and discover "where the truth lies" — works as a handy summation of his ceaseless ambition to tell labyrinthine yet accessible meta-stories and frequent habit of tripping over his own feet in so doing. Would that he could pull it off, because Adoration comes close to providing a welcome challenge to the "everything is connected" subgenre that's become a staple, patching together universal culpability and pain in the pedantic exposé of whatever issue du jour.
Instead of detailing a system's machinations, Egoyan uses Adoration to link familial guilt, racial prejudice, and the ethics of performance as causes and repercussions of a phony classroom report concocted by orphaned teenager Devon Bostick, who re-imagines his parents' demise as a terrorist act perpetrated by his revered father. Simultaneously abetting and unraveling an experiment in public psychotherapy — which spills into cyberspace and causes a worldwide uproar — Egoyan hasn't been this sharp in ages, weaving in and out of past and present, fantasies and deceptions, capturing the chaotic, righteous discourse ricocheting around the walls of the 'net and within a boy's head.
But then this inquiry into moral relativism is bafflingly dropped for a melodramatic reveal, and it's here that Egoyan's typically preposterous excesses can no longer be sustained: Bostick's conspiring teacher (Arsinée Khanjian), who dresses in a burqa to teach uncle Scott Speedman lessons in cultural empathy; glossy, diffuse-lit flashbacks where people flirt while talking about violins; and a woefully pat bonfire of symbolic intolerance that proves Adoration a just-obsolete curio of currently "topical cinema," attempting to confront our ambiguous perception of the inconceivable but instead reconfirming simple therapeutics to legacies of hate.
Opens May 8
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