Directed by Atom Egoyan
The Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan never makes it easy for us. In 1997 he made the brilliant film “The Sweet Hereafter,” in which a small town’s school kids are in a school bus that goes off the road at a slick patch of ice, down a hill and into an ice-covered lake, where it settles slowly and sinks to the bottom, killing all the children. As bad as that is, Egoyan is interested more in the reactions of the town, as it loses its next generation – poof, like that! – in the kind of accident no one could be prepared for. There’s even more to the film than that, including incest and a lawsuit, but the genius of Egoyan is that he raises questions that have no easy answers, and that is what makes his films so powerful.
Once again, in his new film “Adoration,” he is concerned with questions that seem not to have any answers. A boy, Simon, in French class in Toronto hears of something that happened – in reality – a few years ago. A Jordanian terrorist took his pregnant Irish girlfriend to visit his family in Israel, but at the last minute he asked her to go alone and he would join her in a couple of days. He had planted in her bag a bomb that would have destroyed the El Al airliner in the air and killed 380 people. The Israeli security agents found the bag and arrested the bomber.
Now the boy, whose own parents were killed in an auto accident 8 years ago, lives with his uncle Tom, the mother’s brother (played by Scott Speedman), who’s despised by the grandfather for not making more of himself (he runs a tow truck). Encouraged by his French and drama teacher Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian, the brilliant Lebanese actress and Egoyan’s wife and muse) he presents the story to his class as something that really happened – that his mother was pregnant with him and in love with her fiancé at the time, who was according to his story the bomber.
His classmates are shocked by it, and soon the teen chat-rooms are buzzing with all kinds of comments. At the same time a strange Muslim woman comes to visit Tom and Simon on Christmas Eve. What can she want? And what of the real life of Simon’s parents? His mother was a violinist, his father a luthier who meets her even though married, when he puts a new scroll on her violin.
The film is bursting with incidents, including a visit by Simon to his dying grandfather, and a strange confrontation between Sabine and Tom. But I don’t want to give away any more of the plot. You will have to see “Adoration” for yourself; it is well worth it.