large_kVFKgcNVsaL762xfKHqTAnRlLEwSome movies seem to have the odds in their favor. A screenplay by Oscar winner Christopher Hampton, based on a novella by Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing.  Two of the industry’s most respected (not to mention gorgeous) mid-career actresses. A truly breathtaking setting on the Australian coast. And, not one forbidden love affair, but two — complete with an Oedipal twist.

That’s probably how the movie Adore was pitched to producers. It goes to show that there’s no sure-fire recipe for Hollywood success.

Up-and-coming French director Anne Fontaine’s English language debut focuses on two lifelong friends: 40-somethings Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts). They live side-by-side on an idyllic beach. Neither has a husband (Lil’s died years earlier and Roz’s takes a job in far-off Sydney early on in the movie — how convenient).

Oh, and did I mention they each have a teenage son?

Not just a typical teenage son, but a teenage son who is heart-stoppingly beautiful in the tousled hair, intense eyes, ripped abs way of the models on Abercrombie & Fitch shopping bags. (Heck, I’m embarrassed carrying them — much less carrying on with one of them.)

“They’re like young gods,” Roz whispers to Lil, as Tom and Ian (James Frescheville and Xavier Samuel) surf together. Just in case we didn’t notice. Um, we noticed.

But wait! The boys aren’t the only superhuman presence here. Their moms are a little too perfect and wear bikinis that are barely there. Suffice it to say, they aren’t your average maternal figures. They’re definitely MILFs (feel free to Google if you’re not familiar with the term); it’s no wonder that the boys are smitten with each other’s mothers.

Ian seduces Roz one evening after Tom passes out from too much wine. Roz doesn’t put up much of a fight. Tom finds out and marches over to Lil’s to seduce her too. The mothers confront each other, enjoy about three minutes of regret and settle into a fairly unconventional arrangement.

I expected melodrama. I expected some level of sensational (if not downright trashy) content. But, I didn’t expect to be bored.

Despite its impressive creative team and lurid subject, Adore is simply (and truly) boring.

Not that there isn’t craft here. Whenever time goes by, Fontaine uses water as a cinematic transition. Preteen Lil and Roz share a knowing smile and suddenly are grown women connecting over Lil’s husband’s grave by the shore. Their young sons dive into a wave and emerge as grown men. There are lush underwater sequences, and shadowy carnal encounters. And much of the acting is quite good.

Robin Wright, who is a strong Emmy contender for her recent House of Cards, underplays this melodramatic material beautifully. However, her Australian accent seems to come and go like the movie’s ubiquitous waves on the beach. Two-time Oscar-nominee Naomi Watts is a little softer and less certain as Lil, and when she breaks down admitting that she loves Tom, we do feel for her — even if we don’t quite understand what she sees in him.

Meanwhile, Lil is appalled when a scorned suitor (of her own generation) mistakenly assumes that she and Roz are involved. Apparently, she would rather be thought of as a cradle-robbing cougar. “He thinks we’re lezzos!” she gasps, “We’re not lezzos! Are we lezzos?” Methinks she doth protest too much.

There is certainly an undercurrent of sexual attraction between the two women. And when they engage with each other’s sons, it is very much a group activity. “We’ve crossed a line,” they solemnly agree. “But, I can’t remember being this happy.” They giggle together like schoolgirls at the thought of their hot young lovers. And, naturally, that’s a good reason to cavort in the sea again.

Much of the movie felt like a perimenopausal Return to the Blue Lagoon. Not necessarily a good thing.

Eventually, the mothers realize that they have to release their young bucks and allow them to build lives and families with women of their own age. (Let’s ignore the fact that one of the sons begins that conversation by starting a romance outside of the frisky foursome.) The moms selflessly give up their lovers only to have all hell break loose later. No one in the outside world can understand their forbidden love. And I think we’re supposed to feel sympathy for them. (Perhaps I would have if I hadn’t been checking my watch.)

I think the main theme of the movie isn’t supposed to be the April-September romances (with a whiff of incest thrown in). I think the film revolves around the friendship between the two women. But, I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. The bond a woman feels to her best friend may be stronger than the one she feels for her husband. But, I don’t for a minute believe that a mother would accept her teen son bedding her friend even if it meant she got a teen stud for herself.  

Bikini bodies or no, motherhood trumps all.

When the movie premiered at Sundance, titled Two Mothers, it evoked peals of laughter from the audience (much to the director’s dismay). While Adore is based on some fairly salacious material, it tries to be an earnest drama examining the nature of friendship and lust and leaving convention behind.  The thing is, we never really get inside any of the characters (Roz and Lil rarely open up about any genuine emotion and the boys are little more than hunky eye-candy). Meanwhile, the sex isn’t even that sexy. In fact, for a movie about sex, there’s surprisingly little sex. (There’s a lot of swimming though.)

At the end of an hour and a half, Adore isn’t really trash or drama or even soft-core porn.

It’s a snore.

Adore, Official Trailer

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