Imagining Your Past
Atom Egoyan's latest is smart but distant
by Molly Templeton
Atom Egoyan’s latest film Adoration is, to paraphrase a line from the film’s chorus of video-chatting talking heads, about how once you imagine something, it becomes a thing you need to deal with, whether it’s real or fictional. Simon (Devon Bostick) has been dealing with a story about his father that his dying grandfather told him — a story that put a new spin on Simon’s parents’ death some years ago. Then, in French class, Simon’s teacher, Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian), reads aloud an article that strikes a chord with Simon. It’s a story about a terrorist incident — a story in which Simon, suddenly, sees himself. The resulting piece he writes spreads through his class and his community, starting everyone talking about why people make decisions and what they mean, what kind of people they are. The repercussions of Sabine’s encouragement slip into the film gradually, as does her investment in Simon’s life. As Simon, Bostick is a solemn, convincing storyteller, and Scott Speedman gives a surprisingly affecting performance as the uncle who’s taken care of Simon since his parents died. Everyone plays their parts well, but they still feel like parts in an intellectual exercise: What happens when Simon’s imagining of one years-past incident infects his community, and they all imagine the same thing, finding their reactions stronger or stranger than they expected? How does imagining what we would do in a drastic scenario shape how we feel about such events? And how is it that people, despite the strange things they do to each other, can wind up connecting? Adoration is there to make you think more than feel; it’s a well-made film, but one that feels like an assignment more than an inspiration.
Adoration opens Friday, Aug. 7, at the Bijou.