Starring Devon Bostick and Scott Speedman. Rated PG. Opens Friday, May 8, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Although not quite a return to Atom Egoyan's top form, Adoration raises enough interesting questions to remind us why we need him to keep sending bulletins on the messy state of North American culture.
Watch the trailer for Adoration.
This tale rests, as do many Egoyan efforts, on a young man going through an especially difficult transition to adulthood. Devon Bostick, who played younger versions of principal characters in The Stone Angel and Fugitive Pieces, is Toronto high-school student Simon, living with his tow-truck-driving uncle (cast standout Scott Speedman). The lad lost his parents at a young age, and he is also grappling with the decline of his grandfather (Kenneth Welsh), a wealthy and cultured bigot who blames Simon's Arab-born dad (Noam Jenkins) for his own death and that of the boy's mother (weak Rachel Blanchard)—a promising concert violinist, we are told.
When Simon's teacher (Arsinée Khanjian) asks for translations of an article about an '80s case resembling that of the Jordanian man who tricked his pregnant Irish fiancée into carrying a bomb onto an El Al flight, Simon responds by writing in the first person, as if he were the offspring of that strange union. The teacher—who has some secrets of her own, plus some questionable ethics—encourages him to make this version public, with dire consequences.
Also as usual for the stylized writer-director, the storytelling is highly dependent upon coincidences and elliptical allusions that generally stay just out of reach. The disorienting jump cuts and long, awkward silences don't exactly encourage viewer identification, although the young protagonist's dependence on electronic communication offers provocative insights. As events shift to the uncle's side of things, Adoration takes on more emotional weight, however, and there's some heart to go with the incessant puzzle-solving.