Directed by Atom Egoyan; starring Scott Speedman, Devon Bostick, Rachel Blanchard and Kenneth Welsh
In Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s complex and searching new drama Adoration, a traumatized family revisits its past, revealing, among other things, the fault lines of fear and victimhood that tremble in the post-9/11 consciousness.
Asked to translate an article about an attempted airplane bombing for French class, young Simon (Devon Bostick) impresses classmates and others with the revelation that he is the orphaned son of the terrorist identified in the article. The boy’s story becomes an online sensation as everyone from neo-Nazis to 9/11 survivors logs onto the Internet to have a say.
Meanwhile, Tom (Scott Speedman), Simon’s uncle and guardian, struggles with the legacy of intolerance and bigotry that his late father left behind. In two remarkable scenes, an interloper wearing a black burka confronts Tom as he decorates his suburban home for Christmas. In evocative fashion, the woman forces Tom's deep-seated intolerance to the surface before disarming him and helping him find forgiveness.
Less successful and a touch contrived are parts of the film riffing on technology (some scenes unfold through cell phones and desktop cameras). Lengthy online chat sessions yield some hammy discourse on terror, complete with hit-you-over-the-head lines (“I am the guy who is speaking for the dead!” shrieks the 9/11 survivor) set to the 1980s pop tune Dear God, an unfortunate intrusion on the film’s otherwise exquisite violin score by Mychael Danna.
Egoyan fans will appreciate Adoration. It’s the kind of meandering suspense flick — intelligent, sensuous, brooding — that has earned him darling status in Canadian cinema. It continues his trademark obsession with trauma, imagining characters who, cracked by tragedy and consumed by phantom terrors, cannot decide if they are the victims or the agents of their own misfortunes.
If you enjoy reading our online stories about ethical living, justice and faith, please make a donation to the Friends of The Observer Fund. Supporting our award-winning journalism will help you and others to continue to access ucobserver.org for free in the months to come.