When you watch an Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter, Ararat) film you expect him to expertly weave a character study with a riveting complex story of human emotion. It's all angst and trauma with this guy. Nothing light, but always some food for thought. He never hits you over the head with what his point is; it is all very subtle yet very plain. Whatever story Mr. Egoyan chooses to tell it is always moving.
This film (especially) seems to evolve in real time, so that you feel you are a participant in the story. You are connected and involved from the get go. Their grief is yours and you are left breathless after the action. The moments of humour in the film save it from becoming too much like a therapy session and too heavy.
The story is purposely told out of sequence to heighten the effect of when it finally comes to focus on its central purpose. It is effective because we are never really sure if what we are watching is real or imagined. It certainly keeps us on our toes. When it does finally all come together for the viewer you will find yourself uttering a quiet "ah hah". You eventually catch on that this is a story that is really a mystery.
Once he writes an essay to fulfill a high school assignment, Simon (Devon Bostick – The Stone Angel, Land of the Dead) starts a cycle of reactions that he never could have imagined while penning it. The essay he has written turns a terrorist plot into a eulogy for his mysteriously deceased parents. Needless to say in this day and age this does not fly under the radar. His grief soon involves his uncle Tom (Scott Speedman – from television's Felicity), his teacher (Arsinee Khanjian – Exotica, Felicia's Journey) and other members of the town he lives in. By posting his essay online everyone is now involved. It is like his writing has forced many to address the repressed racism and sadness in their own lives.
We all get to examine the "who am I" question alongside the characters in this film. We are all intrigued by that particular question on one level or another. The search becomes a problem which becomes all encompassing. The concept of prejudice and how it comes to colour everything we are is also looked at. Even our own "memories" are clouded by the biases we hold. We never really think about how this affects others.
Technically the film scores high marks for cinematography, the score (music is very important to the story) and the acting of Scott Speedman is a revelation. The one weak link, in some parts, is the script (written by Egoyan himself). There are some inconsistencies and sometimes there are twists just for twist sake. Some of it seems overdone (or maybe done just for film students) and not necessary.
The film will not gain a huge audience due to its complexity and its snail's pace in the beginning. "Adoration" will be too slow moving in the first half for many to stick with it with anything resembling an earnest effort, but it is really not as boring as all that.