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Adoration speaks to our connections—with each other, with our family history, with technology and with the modern world. Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian), a high school French teacher, gives her class a translation exercise based on a real news story about a terrorist who plants a bomb in the airline luggage of his pregnant girlfriend. The assignment has a profound effect on one student, Simon (Devon Bostick), who lives with his uncle (Scott Speedman). In the course of translating, Simon re-imagines that the news item is his own family's story, with the terrorist standing in for his father. Years ago, Simon's father crashed the family car, killing both himself and his wife, making Simon an orphan. Simon has always feared that the accident was intentional. Simon reads his version to the class and then takes it to the internet. In essence, he has created a false identity, which allows him to probe his family secret. As Simon uses his new persona to journey deeper into his past, the public reaction is swift and strong. Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica).

 

 

 

  Adoration by writer/director Atom Egoyan

The question I’m most often asked about my movies is how I come up with the structure. From Exotica to The Sweet Hereafter to Ararat and now to Adoration, viewers are always wondering how the prismatic and non-linear approach to narrative is evolved. The answer is a bit of a mystery to me since it seems a natural result of the stories I wish to tell. I never start with a straightforward version of the film which I then chop up and re-assemble. In short, this is the way the films come to me, and this approach is directly related to the way my characters view the world.

In Adoration there are two main characters. Simon is an orphaned 16-year-old who is trying to understand who his parents were. Denied the truth about his parents by a grandfather who views his mother—the grandfather’s daughter—as an angel and his father as a monster who might have been responsible for the “accident” which claimed their lives, Simon resorts to an extreme re-imagining of their narrative. Eventually he takes this story—drawn from an actual news event about an aborted terrorist attack—and posts it on the internet, leading to unexpected results.

The other central character is Sabine, the French and Drama teacher at Simon’s school. It is Sabine who encourages Simon to develop this imaginary character as a drama exercise, but her motivations are complex. She has a long and hidden relationship with Simon’s family, and this suppressed obsession becomes the motivation for the film’s action. While Simon can never understand why Sabine is so insistent in urging him to go further and further in his personal exploration, the viewer gradually absorbs the intricate sequence of events that have led to her actions.

Both of these characters are traumatized, and it occurs to me that what I find so satisfying about film is the ability to resurrect missing scenes in peoples’ lives. As characters search for meaning in their lives, the viewer is often searching for meaning in the movie. This creates a fascinating alchemy, and is hugely exciting for me as a filmmaker. Adoration is full of religious and cultural artifacts which have lost their meaning and are open to re-interpretation. As the characters grapple with how to absorb these spiritually loaded objects—objects which have long lost their original purpose—the viewer is complicit in this new search for value and understanding.

The word “adoration” suggests a fixed regard on an object or person worthy of profound reverence. The film is full of these exchanges, and I invite audiences to be as open and curious as possible in their experience of my film. It’s an emotional puzzle and I trust you will find its exploration of the world we all live in to be rich and satisfying.