Adoration: Egoyan’s Tale of Teacher, Student, and Terrorism

Cannes Film Fest 2008–After three artistically and commercially disappointing films in a row (“Felicia’s Journey,” “Ararat,” and “Where the Truth Lies”) Toronto-based director Atom Egoyan is (almost) back on the right track with Adoration.
The film continues Egoyan’s exploration of interpersonal communications within complex family dynamics, and the impact of new technologies on our various connections–with ourselves, with others, with the world.

Like other Egoyan films, “Adoration” received its world premiere at the 2008 Cannes Film Fest (in Competition) and will be released by Sony Classics in May 2009.

Egoyan’s 12th feature film in 25 years is marked by common threads that recur in most of his work: the differences between appearance and reality; the subjective nature of truth; prismatic, fragmented structures; multiple time frames and points of view; rich and complex characters.

 

The gifted, frequent actress in Egoyan’s features Arsinee Khanjian (who’s married to the director) plays Sabine, a high school French teacher who gives her class a translation exercise based on a factual news story about a terrorist who plants a bomb in the airline luggage of his pregnant girlfriend.

 

Unexpectedly, the assignment has a profound effect on one student, Simon (Devon Bostick), who lives with his uncle (Scott Speedman). In the course of translating, Simon re-imagines that the news item is his own family’s story, with the terrorist standing in for his father.

 

There’s a reason for this Freudian exercise. Years ago, Simon’s father (Noam Jenkins) crashed the family car, an accident which killed him and his wife (Rachel Blanchard), turning Simon into an orphan. Simon has always feared that the accident was intentional but has not done much about this suspicion.

 

Back at school, Simon reads his version to the class and then takes it to the Internet, thus exposing it to the whole world.  In the process, he creates a false identity, which he believes would allow him to probe his family secret more thoroughly without many personal consequences.  As Simon uses his new persona to journey deeper into his past, the public reaction gets swifter and stronger.  Turning point occurs when an exotic woman reveals her identity, and the “truth” about Simon’s family is disclosed. In the end, the mystery is resolved, leading to the formation of a new meaningful family bond.

 

Egoyan is a festival darling, due to the fact that he’s both the auteur and author of his films: “Adoration, like several other works, is written, produced, and directed by him, and one feels not only the control that Egoyan must have had over the production but also the greater emotional affinity he felt with the text itself.

 

In a Cannes press conference, Egoyan said that “Adoration” was actually inspired by a 1986 news story he had read about a Jordanian man who sent his pregnant Irish girlfriend on an El Al flight with a bomb in her handbag, of which she had no knowledge until security guards found it.

 

Though not as powerful as “Exotica” and “The Sweet Hereafter,” arguably Egoyan’s two best films to date, “Adoration” still offers an in intriguing exploration of intimacy, the nature of interpersonal relationships to the mass media and endlessly shifting technology, and the effects of these two forces on the construction of uncertain personal identities that more and more are in a state of flux.

Cast

Sabine – Arsinee Khanjian

Tom – Scott Speedman

Rachel – Rachel Blanchard

Sami – Noam Jenkins

Simon – Devon Bostick

Morris – Kenneth Welssh

 

Credits

A Sony Pictures Classics (in U.S.) release of a Serendipity Point Films (Canada)/ARP Selection (France) presentation of an Ego Film Arts (Canada) production, with the participation of Telefilm Canada, M, Super Ecran, Astral Media, Movie Central, Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit. Produced by Atom Egoyan, Simone Urdl, Jennifer Weiss.

Executive producers, Robert Lantos, Michele Halberstadt, Laurent Petin.

Directed, written by Atom Egoyan.

Camera, Paul Sarossy.

Editor, Susan Shipton; music, Mychael Danna; production designer, Phillip Barker; art director, Barry Isenor; set decorator, Jim Lambie; costume designer, Debra Hanson.

Sound, Bissa Scekic; sound designer/supervising sound editor, Steve Munro; supervising re-recording mixer, Daniel Pellerin; re-recording mixer, Jan Rudy.

Visual effects supervisor, Robert Crowther.

Visual effects, Rocket Science VFX.

Running time: 101 Minutes.