Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Sep 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Adoration, Blind Faith

film_poster_adorationReligion, intolerance, identity, explored in talky, but intriguing drama ‘Adoration'
The title is apt. In Adoration, the tautly-constructed new drama from individualistic Canadian indie filmmaker Atom Egoyan, the central image is a large, hand-painted wooden Crèche scene, a holiday lawn display whose cut-out figures represent the Adoration of the Magi, complete with metallic gold halos.
But the splendor of this innocent-seeming artifact conceals a world of turmoil, prejudice, fear, deceit, and, finally, reconciliation, in Egoyan’s precisely rendered and beautifully scaled meditation on family and culture, secrets and lies.

Egoyan (best known for The Sweet Hereafter) maintains a delicate balancing act throughout the film. Incidents and conversations unspool in a seemingly random manner at first, until the chronology of the story begins to assert itself. There’s nothing tricky or arty about this; it’s just the means by which Egoyan reveals what we need to know about the shape-shifting storyline by degrees, while reeling in the viewer with the authenticity of his characters’ voices, thoughts, feelings, and dilemmas.

film_AdorationAt the heart of the tale is teenage Simon (Devon Bostick). One day, he has an epiphany about his deceased parents when his Lebanese-born high school French teacher, Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian,) reads the class an old newspaper story about a pregnant foreigner arrested in an Israeli airport with a bomb in her luggage. Encouraged to share his story with the class, Simon and his story of loss and identity are soon burning up cyberspace as well, sparking weighty discussions on terrorism, love, faith, martyrdom, and survival among Simon’s face-to-face online chat room pals. The discussion expands exponentially to include their parents, and even total strangers, some of them pretty scary;  the split screen image on his laptop keeps dividing like amoebas as more and more people log onto the debate.

Back in the real world, Tom (Scott Speedman), the young uncle who’s raising Simon, struggles to make ends meet on his tow-truck driver’s salary. A hard worker with a short fuse, Tom is not amused when a mysterious neighbor woman (with a veil over her face that looks like it’s made out of chain mail) stops to make disparaging remarks as he’s erecting the family’s Christmas Crèche scene on the lawn—even when she comes back later to apologize.

Armed with his ever-present Nokia camera phone, Simon goes to visit his grandfather (Kenneth Welsh) to ask about his parents. The old man, still robust, although now confined to a hospital bed, lavishes praise on the memory of Simon’s mother, Rachel (Rachel Blanchard, in flashback), a lovely and talented violinist, and expresses disappointment over his other child, Tom, whom he considers angry and sullen. As to Rachel’s mysterious Muslim husband, Grandpa tells Simon in no uncertain terms that the boy’s father “was a killer.”

These various stories and the consequences they provoke dance around each other for awhile, but gradually begin to mesh in intriguing ways. With so large, yet intricate a canvas to work on, Egoyan explores opposing religions, cultural stereotyping, and, the nature, origins, and lasting effects of intolerance, a legacy of hatred spread throughout the generations from a single poisonous source.

It takes time for Egoyan to weave together his plots, and as he does, he keeps the audience in a state of anxious suspense. As the themes darken, and the action becomes  ever more offbeat and unpredictable, viewers brace for some sort of violent upheaval—a terrorist bomb, or a psychological disintegration, or a hidden revenge motive springing suddenly into play. But despite the volatility of the arguments he raises, Egoyan’s thoughtful dramatic action is never quite what one expects.

There may be one coincidental plot twist too many, and the film occasionally threatens to bury itself under a landslide of talk. But the well-chosen cast keeps the viewer engaged as Egoyan delves into the question of who and what we profess to adore, and how we choose to express it. 3 stars out of 4

With Scott Speedman, Devon Bostick, and Arsinée Khanjian. Written and directed by Atom Egoyan. Rated R. 100 minutes. Opens July 24.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Reflecting Glass

Composer Philip Glass’ first trip to Big Sur was by motorcycle; little did he know that he’d establish a music festival there six decades later.

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Wurst Case Scenario

Venus Spirits releases agave spirit, Renee Shepherd on planting garlic, Sausagefest 2014, and wine harvest in full swing

 

Do you think you are addicted to technology?

Santa Cruz  |  Unemployed

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”