For his French-class assignment, a high school student weaves his
family history in a news story involving terrorism, and goes on to
invite an Internet audience in on the resulting controversy. A modern
drama exploring the impacts of cross-cultural marriage, religion and


A chilly contemplation by the Canadian truthseeker.

A chilly intellectualism sucks the dramatic life out of Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan’s Adoration, a convoluted think piece that occasionally lets its characters breath but more often buries them under weighty issues.

When high-school student Simon (Devon Bostick) presents an essay on his late parents’ terrorist leanings, news spreads fast. Via webcam conferencing, a vast chorus from all sectors of Canadian society chimes in with personal and political reactions to the developing controversy – all this despite the essay being entirely fictional.

Egoyan forsakes all narrative concerns in these interminable, blurry blogosphere rants. On show is the modern director’s easy way out – why structure a story and believable characters to make your point when you can have a series of talking heads yell it to your audience? It could be said that the director is examining the nature of our new society, where the distance and anonymity of the Internet allows for safer expression of deeply personal views. Digital imaging plays a significant role in Simon’s life – he is recording the final thoughts of his ailing, racist grandfather (Kenneth Welsh) on a digi-camera – but the bridging and exploration of these thematic elements is clumsy; the denouement, heavy-handed.

Atom Egoyan’s skill as a director has always been combining the depth of his themes with the warmth and believability of his characters, and Adoration finds that balance at the half-way mark. Since being orphaned, Simon has lived with his honest-Joe uncle, Tom (a terrific Scott Speedman), whose working-class life is thrown into turmoil by Simon’s teacher, Lebanese-born Sabine (Arsinee Khanjian). At first, she visits Tom’s house unannounced, concealing herself under the full-adornment of her religious headwear; these scenes, asking the audience to examine their own reaction to a profound Middle Eastern image in the midst of an all-American suburb, provide the film’s best moments. Sabine soon reveals her identity, the role she has played in Simon’s ruse, and the connection they all share.
It's here that the filmmaker subtly and convincingly weaves such hot-button issues as racism, martyrdom, cultural misunderstanding, familial bonds and, in particular, forgiveness – one of the central tenants of Western religion.

Egoyan kicked off his career with the acclaimed Family Viewing (1987), which examined the 'truth’ of the videotaped image; Adoration plays that card far less successfully. But the director peaked with the Oscar-nominated The Sweet Hereafter (1997), a small-town chamber-piece that focussed on loss, grief and family with shattering intensity, and it is these elements which soar in his frustratingly-uneven Adoration.


1 hour 41 min
Wed, 11/11/2009 - 11