It’s been an unfortunate couple of months for Naomi Watts. Having already been cajoled into the disgustingly awful analysis of modern royalty that was Diana, she’s managed to follow it up with a project with a script that could possibly be considered – get this – even worse. Adore is a confused mess of bad plotting, appalling dialogue and an inherent pretension that only emphasizes its real-world standing as a horribly-made melodrama.
The film follows the lives of two neighbouring Australian families. Our main characters (played initially by a pair of child actors who somehow manage to make running look unnatural, before somewhat awkwardly morphing into Naomi Watts and Robin Wright), are two lifelong pals living atop a picturesque cliff-face with their respective hunky male off-springs. I’m going to stop there, because revealing too much more as to how the plot develops would only serve to ruin much of the deep vein of unintentional hilarity that is the film’s only saving grace. Suffice to say, it’s as stupid as it is unbelievable.
Of course, Adore never had a chance. The script is appalling, its every fundament oozes with lazy, lecherously awful writing that somehow still manages to be coated in a thick layer of pomposity. It’s impressive that a script so evidently half-assed made it through production at all. It sounds like the kind of thing scribbled by a pretentious 14 year old, only to be re-read a couple of years later and swiftly disposed of due to sheer embarrassment.
The plot reads like a realist’s worst nightmare and the dialogue is often wince-inducingly hammy, packed with forced character exposition and the sort of lines that are nothing akin to what a human-being should ever utter with a straight face. Basically, the actors were royally screwed before they even started.
These poor thesps were, for some reason, directed to act this trite excuse for a screenplay with a heavy-handed degree of naturalism. The kind of pauses and stutters that would work perfectly when performing, say, a David Mamet script, here leave the cast regularly looking like they’ve forgotten their lines. Hell, maybe they were trying to forget their lines.
Were the film played as a broad and trashy melodrama there might have been some kitschy fun to glean from it, but for this utterly self-absorbed movie to take such bad dialogue so seriously sees Watts and company stumble worryingly far into Tommy Wiseau territory. The ensemble also suffers from a grievous lack of chemistry, leading to a group of people sharing romantic and sexual connections akin to a pair of unwashed socks.
I’m sorry, but Ben Mendelsohn deserved better than this.
Infuriatingly, there’s a much better film to be made from this subject matter. The ideas behind the bizarre and deliciously twisted recesses of a good old matriarchal complex are always worth exploring, and Adore‘s plotlines seem like the perfect set-up for some in-depth analysis of the seedier side of domestic bliss. But of course, that wasn’t going to happen, that would require the script and storyline to have been put together with some semblance of delicacy or intelligence. What we get instead is a witless and bloated drudge of a movie that at 110 minutes is a good two hours too long.
Is it meant to be innovative due to its pan-generational romances? Is it meant to be liberating due to its emphasis on middle aged actresses? When a piece of “art” is this bad, context and revolutionary thought don’t come into it. This is a film where people make sleeping look forced and unrealistic. Every blackout leaves you hoping that it’s all over, only to awaken a fresh hell every time the over-colourised gaudiness comes hurtling back into view once more.
Half-assed, half-sketched and half-baked – I am utterly stunned that Adore ended up being made.