Thursday, December 17, 2009

451) Adoration (2008)

451) Adoration (2008) Dir: Atom Egoyan Date Released: May 2009 Date Seen: December 17, 2009 Rating: 3.75/5

The holistic impression of weighty complexity that Adoration, Atom Egoyan's latest story about stories, ambiguity and video tape, exhudes is what makes it such an accomplished later work in his already stacked filmography. Its focus shifts so constantly that it perfectly fits Simon's (Devon Bostick), its young protagonist, desire to alienate and explode his community's need for events to be fastidiously neat and digestibly coherent. Simon wants something to happen that can destroy his dead parents' tragic image so he tells his classmates a story about how they were terrorists. That impulse to consciously raze his family's status to achieve personal stability is a naive and selfish decision, one that stems from an irrational desire to complicate Simon's family history for the sake of simplifying it, a contradiction in terms that Egoyan's been enamored with for decades now. Adoration in that sense is not so much an evolution of his films' overall argument but rather an outstanding expression of his pet themes.

Adoration is about why its seemingly disparate events come together because of simultaneously artificial ways and means and no discernible reason at all because all of the film's various dialectical conflicts are all equal in Egoyan's eyes because they all revolve around the same fruitless search for finite moral difference. Black-and-white ideology cannot exist for long because there are always corrupting shades of grey.

For example, take the conflict between Simon's exploitation of digital photography and Egoyan's impressive measured camerawork. Simon on the one hand uses the immediacy of webcam and film footage taken on his camera phone to needle his audience into disbelieving the complicated story he unveils. It's a live feed and the all-seeing eye of new media never flinches. On the other hand, he's performing for the camera. You can see this in the guarded way he takes a sip of water before addressing his interactive audience in a chat room and the way that he handily takes out his camera phone cued up to the exact spot in his reams of digital footage that he wants to show them.

Just as Simon defies the "What you see is what you get" reality of the technological medium he's using, so too does Egoyan refuse the audience pronounced narrative clarity in the way the film's treacherously innocuous flashbacks undermine his saliently deliberate, confident camerawork, full of terse tracking shots and pans. While the former seduces the viewer with promises of a straightforward narrative trajectory, the latter sleepily throws the viewer for a loop, forcing them to infrequently backtrack and figure out what scene goes where and why. The fact that Egoyan is so capable of stacking the deck to make Simon's point proves that he can still make thoughtful provocations with the best of them.

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