Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) are two attractive middle aged women living their entire lives as best friends and neighbors in an idyllic beachfront paradise. Now adults, Lil and Robin each have gorgeous homes and gorgeous surfer sons, Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Tom (James Frecheville), respectively. The boys have blossomed into male-model specimens of manhood, which their mothers can’t help ogling (“Did we produce this? They’re like gods”). No money problems are in evidence, while husbands are non-existent (Lil’s is dead; Roz’s is never around, eventually divorcing her).
Before long, the moral line is crossed. Mother lust takes hold. Unlike 1967’s cougar classic “The Graduate,” the young men are the seducers. Ian goes for Roz, triggering Tom’s sexual advance on Lil.
Also unlike “The Graduate,” “Adore” is devoid of humor, and dipping into a disturbing Oedipal element. Ian says, “Roz is like a mother to me,” after muttering her name in his sleep, while bedding a girl his age. That girl he marries after impregnating her.
Tom, too, enters the world of matrimony with a woman of his generation. Soon, Tom, Ian, their wives and little daughters are visiting the Grandmas on the glorious beach.
Time has passed, but nothing much has changed: the sand, surf, sex…the disturbing kind.
Based on four short novels (“The Grandmothers”) by Nobel laureate Doris Lessing, “Adore” has its pedigree. It doesn’t hurt that the director is Anne Fontaine (“Coco Before Chanel”), with this her first English-language film. The adapted screenplay is by Ms. Fontaine and Christopher Hampston (“Dangerous Liaisons”).
It’s a story that sticks in your head. Even if you wish it didn’t.