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JulyDiaz

Episode 185 - Adore

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Blonde guy, Naomi Watts son

Brunette, robin Wright’s son.

Even that didn't help. They're so bland that I can't even keep their differences straight.

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Even that didn't help. They're so bland that I can't even keep their differences straight.

I was already a fan of Xavier Samuel before I saw this movie so to me it's just Xavier Samuel and Brunette because who cares about him? Not even me.

 

Seriously if this had just been Robin and Xavier's movie I would've been happy.

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Here are my random thoughts from this episode:

  • The old theme song is back! That was a surprise!
  • The morning that the Naomi Watts wakes up and has sex with the son - there is no way that in her 50s (or even if she were in her 40s) she wakes up looking that good and ready to kiss an 18 year old boy.
  • The whole scene where one son bites the other son and then he tends to his wound was such a wasted opportunity (like so many other wasted opportunities). I thought to myself that finally this movie might be getting good, but it wasn't.
  • I found it very hard to believe these 18 year old boys stayed with their older lovers for 2 years. A fling with an older lover seems reasonable but a 2 year love affair? Are we to assume that they stayed at home at the beach houses for those two years? Didn't go to college or get jobs where they met other people?
  • For a movie with a sexy premise, this movie did not have nearly enough sex. Or biting, slapping, or arguing. More conflict and more sex is what this movie needed.

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If movies and tv have taught me anything it's that rich white ladies LOVE their salad. According to tv/movies rich women in their natural habitat survive on a steady diet of salad, wine, and yogurt . Occasionally they will nibble a bit of cheese or eat a grape.

 

I assume the movie is saying they don't actually know how to cook anything.

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If I can bring up Woody Allen again. Marrying his adopted daughter isn’t “incest” but it’s definitely “incestual.” Same thing here.

 

Soon-Yi was not Woody Allen's adopted daughter. Her adoptive father is Andre Previn.

 

(This should not be read as a way of "defending" Woody Allen, as I think there are plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike him or his work. But the pedant in me feels the need to correct people when they get the facts wrong -- which are, granted, pretty confusing here.)

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Personally, I feel like they’re all a bunch of narcissistic sociopaths that couldn’t give a shit about the emotional wreckage they wreak, and are so infatuated with themselves, that the only thing that seems logical is to literally be in love with one another.

 

This is the reason that I think it's a bad movie. These are horrid people. You can make a good movie about horrid people, but there needs to be some self-awareness of what they are. It needs to be satirical or over-the-top trashy, or there needs to be at least one character who recognizes their bullshit and calls it out, or the ending needs to make clear that their actions led to some kind of pathetic result.

 

Adore doesn't do any of that. It's treated as a straightforward relationship drama and very prettily filmed, which makes it seem like the filmmakers are trying to get you to sympathize with with the plight of these selfish rich twats. No thanks.

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  • I found it very hard to believe these 18 year old boys stayed with their older lovers for 2 years. A fling with an older lover seems reasonable but a 2 year love affair? Are we to assume that they stayed at home at the beach houses for those two years? Didn't go to college or get jobs where they met other people?

 

Maybe they thought they could bypass college. Ian (the blonde one) probably didn't need to go to college since he could (and did) go work at his mother's yacht firm. And I thought Tom (the brunette) was able to break into the theater world by leveraging his father's connections at Sydney.

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This is the reason that I think it's a bad movie. These are horrid people. You can make a good movie about horrid people, but there needs to be some self-awareness of what they are. It needs to be satirical or over-the-top trashy, or there needs to be at least one character who recognizes their bullshit and calls it out, or the ending needs to make clear that their actions led to some kind of pathetic result.

 

Adore doesn't do any of that. It's treated as a straightforward relationship drama and very prettily filmed, which makes it seem like the filmmakers are trying to get you to sympathize with with the plight of these selfish rich twats. No thanks.

 

I can’t say that I agree with you. Why does it have to do any of those things? For one thing, I think it depends on the filmmaker’s intentions. If they’re trying to tell us that what the characters are doing is wrong, then maybe what you’re saying is true. But does the movie actually feel like what they’re doing is wrong? And if it *doesn’t* feel like they’re wrong, then we can’t very well expect it to be presented in an “over-the-top trashy” or “satirical” way.

 

Personally, I think the movie tries to remain impartial. It’s not trying to convince us of anything. It simply shows us these characters for who they are - warts and all. That’s what makes it a challenging. It’s not making any judgements. It’s not telling us what to think. It pushes us to the edge of our comfort zone and forces us to reevaluate what *we* feel is “acceptable.” For my part, I never felt like the movie was trying to judge or punish these people.

 

And of course, this all goes the same for it having to have a “pathetic result.” Although, I would argue that infidelity, grievous personal injury, losing their children, and three divorces during the course of the movie shows that their actions aren’t entirely without their consequences. It just doesn’t necessarily provide the catharsis that an audience might want or expect.

 

(P.S. I think I might be starting to like this movie.)

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I can’t say that I agree with you. Why does it have to do any of those things? For one thing, I think it depends on the filmmaker’s intentions. If they’re trying to tell us that what the characters are doing is wrong, then maybe what you’re saying is true. But does the movie actually feel like what they’re doing is wrong? And if it *doesn’t* feel like they’re wrong, then we can’t very well expect it to be presented in an “over-the-top trashy” or “satirical” way.

 

Personally, I think the movie tries to remain impartial. It’s not trying to convince us of anything. It simply shows us these characters for who they are - warts and all. That’s what makes it a challenging. It’s not making any judgements. It’s not telling us what to think. It pushes us to the edge of our comfort zone and forces us to reevaluate what’s *we* feel is “acceptable.” For my part, I never felt like the movie was trying to judge or punish these people.

 

And of course, this all goes the same for it having to have a “pathetic result.” Although, I would argue that infidelity, grievous personal injury, losing their children, and three divorces during the course of the movie shows that their actions aren’t entirely without their consequences. It just doesn’t necessarily provide the catharsis that an audience might want or expect.

 

(P.S. I think I might be starting to like this movie.)

 

I think that moral relativism can be carried far enough to the point where it's no longer useful, and this might be that point.

 

The argument that a narrative movie like this is just "showing them as they are" is a bit of a cop out. Why not just make a documentary then? (Even documentaries aren't perfectly objective, but you get my point here.) If you decide to tell a fictional story about certain people then you probably have something you want to say about those people. I don't think Adore gives you any grounding for how you are supposed to feel about this story, and if you start reading it closely then all you get is that these people care about their own desires and nothing more. Getting divorced, losing children, etc., seems to mean very little to them, which means they don't care about how their actions affected their spouses and children. In my book, a person who thinks that way is an asshole, regardless of whether or not they personally think they are assholes.

 

So if you've got a movie about assholes you probably should push the audience to feel one way or another about them. It can be subtle and potentially achieved in a number of ways, but there should be some clarity to it. I don't see that in Adore. I see a kind of vague prettiness.

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Maybe they thought they could bypass college. Ian (the blonde one) probably didn't need to go to college since he could (and did) go work at his mother's yacht firm. And I thought Tom (the brunette) was able to break into the theater world by leveraging his father's connections at Sydney.

I thought he had started doing like college productions and then like through the work he had done plus his father's connections then got to Sydney.

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I thought he had started doing like college productions and then like through the work he had done plus his father's connections then got to Sydney.

 

I assumed he got in that production due to his father's help not necessarily that he went there.

 

tom-doesnt-even-go-here.jpg

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A quick correction to the podcast:

 

At some point someone asked what town the characters live in, and "New South Wales" was given as an answer. New South Wales is a state, not a city. Sydney is the largest city in NSW.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_South_Wales

 

I'm not sure if it's ever stated what town they actually live in, though apparently it's far enough from Sydney for that to feel like a big move and reason to divorce your husband (well, along with the fact that you're sleeping with your best friend's son).

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tom-doesnt-even-go-here.jpg

I digress but this just reminded me of a story and I needed to tell y'all about a wedding my photo partner and I shot and we were doing the family photos and we were getting the bride alone with her family and then we were gonna add in the groom so the groom tried to go in first and my photo partner was like, "You don't even go here!" and he turned to me and said, "Did I just get Mean Girled?"

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On the episode, I think they only covered that the movie was based on Doris Lessing's novella "The Grandmothers" and didn't mention that Lessing has said her story was based on true events that she heard happened in a small community in Australia.

 

Paul only briefly mentioned the Doris Lessing novel on the podcast. I read it a long time ago and remember being bored so maybe the movie captured that. I think it's worth noting that she won a Nobel Prize for her contributions to literature not long after "The Grandmothers: Four Short Novels" (on which this is based) was released. I mean, it's not one of her more famous works but I don't know if we've had a Nobel connection on HDTGM before.

 

"The Grandmothers" begins with the two couples in a restaurant in Australia, and a woman (Mary) comes in and she and Hannah take the children away. The novel then jumps backward to Lil and Roz as children to explain this odd confrontation. This makes sense when you know what Tomspanks already said, that Lessing heard about this happening in Australia and wrote a novel to try to explain how it could happen. The end is Mary finding love letters, which causes the first scene. I think they should have kept the title "The Grandmothers" there is something about that title that feels like it knows how strange this all is.

 

Although when the collection was published, the New York Times panned "The Grandmothers." Saying, "[...] there are embarrassing bouts of romance novel prose and lots of icky descriptions of her two heroines, Roz and Lil, leering at their offspring."

 

So maybe the movie got it right?

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Although when the collection was published, the New York Times panned "The Grandmothers." Saying, "[...] there are embarrassing bouts of romance novel prose and lots of icky descriptions of her two heroines, Roz and Lil, leering at their offspring."

 

I was hoping that was Michiko Kakutani.

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If it was a story about two older women hooking up with their son's friend from school, without this close backstory it would be another thing entirely.

 

I feel like we might have covered this before . . .

 

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I think that moral relativism can be carried far enough to the point where it's no longer useful, and this might be that point.

 

The argument that a narrative movie like this is just "showing them as they are" is a bit of a cop out. Why not just make a documentary then? (Even documentaries aren't perfectly objective, but you get my point here.) If you decide to tell a fictional story about certain people then you probably have something you want to say about those people. I don't think Adore gives you any grounding for how you are supposed to feel about this story, and if you start reading it closely then all you get is that these people care about their own desires and nothing more. Getting divorced, losing children, etc., seems to mean very little to them, which means they don't care about how their actions affected their spouses and children. In my book, a person who thinks that way is an asshole, regardless of whether or not they personally think they are assholes.

 

So if you've got a movie about assholes you probably should push the audience to feel one way or another about them. It can be subtle and potentially achieved in a number of ways, but there should be some clarity to it. I don't see that in Adore. I see a kind of vague prettiness.

 

I guess I don’t get your position then. You say the movie is about “assholes” but it doesn’t push you to feel “one way or another about them.” It has, though, hasn’t it? They’re assholes. I don’t think anyone here has argued otherwise. So the movie *has* pushed you to feel something.

 

It seems to me that your issue isn’t so much that they’re assholes, but since they don’t feel any remorse, the repercussions they face don’t adequately “punish” them. But, again, this is a movie about narcissists and sociopaths. They don’t care about anyone but themselves. It simply wouldn’t make sense for Ian to suddenly put on sackcloth and ashes because his wife (that he didn’t want) took away the child (that he didn’t want). Even before anything happens, Director Krennic complains about how he feels pushed to the side. These aren’t people who give a fuck about anyone else’s feelings. They are - in the literary sense - Romantic Heroes. The only true punishment they could face is to be separated from one another. All they want is to be isolated from the rest of the world so they can spend the rest of their lives in the resplendent glow of one another’s company. And, in the end, they achieve that. They win - whether we like it or not.

 

That being said, I still don’t think the movie is trying to judge them for their actions. It’s more, “These people are objectively assholes, but I still like them. Let’s watch...” It’s all about their journey to earn that final sunbath on the sin raft.

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It seems to me that your issue isn’t so much that they’re assholes, but since they don’t feel any remorse, the repercussions they face don’t adequately “punish” them. But, again, this is a movie about narcissists and sociopaths. They don’t care about anyone but themselves. It simply wouldn’t make sense for Ian to suddenly put on sackcloth and ashes because his wife (that he didn’t want) took away the child (that he didn’t want). Even before anything happens, Director Krennic complains about how he feels pushed to the side. These aren’t people who give a fuck about anyone else’s feelings. They are - in the literary sense - Romantic Heroes. The only true punishment they could face is to be separated from one another. They want to be isolated from the rest of the world so they can spend the rest of their lives in the resplendent glow of one another’s company. And, in the end, they achieve that. They win - whether we like it or not.

 

I think you're a bit focused on the idea that I think the plot of the movie needs to directly punish the asshole characters for it to have taken a moral stance on them. Not necessarily.

 

For example, I liked The Wolf of Wall Street. That movie is most certainly about assholes. Are they punished within the movie? Probably not as much as they should have been. They certainly don't seem to realize how badly they screwed people over. But I can get from that movie's presentation that the filmmakers do realize it. Martin Scorsese ends the film with a very obvious shot that implicates the audience, showing the expectant students listening to the main character's speech about how to do well in business (after we've just watched him lie and cheat and bluff his way through it). He blows out and exaggerates the assholes' antics to make them seem clownish. To me that's an example of a movie that presents tough subject matter and is an effective challenge to the audience, asking us how we feel about what we saw.

 

The lack of perspective in Adore, I would argue, ultimately serves to endorse the bad behavior depicted on screen. Granted, this is a fine line to walk. I think that virtually every time this movie has a chance to fall on the right side of that line it falls on the wrong side. It's actually pretty breathtaking how tone-deaf it is.

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I guess I don’t get your position then. You say the movie is about “assholes” but it doesn’t push you to feel “one way or another about them.” It has, though, hasn’t it? They’re assholes. I don’t think anyone here has argued otherwise. So the movie *has* pushed you to feel something.

 

It seems to me that your issue isn’t so much that that they’re assholes, but since they don’t feel any remorse, the repercussions they face don’t adequately “punish” them. But, again, this is a movie about narcissists and sociopaths. They don’t care about anyone but themselves. It simply wouldn’t make sense for Ian to suddenly put on sackcloth and ashes because his wife (that he didn’t want) took away the child (that he didn’t want). Even before anything happens, Director Krennic complains about how he feels pushed to the side. These aren’t people who give a fuck about anyone else’s feelings. They are - in the literary sense - Romantic Heroes. The only true punishment they could face is to be separated from one another. They want to be isolated from the rest of the world so they can spend the rest of their lives in the resplendent glow of one another’s company. And, in the end, they achieve that. They win - whether we like it or not.

 

That being said, I still don’t think the movie is trying to judge them for their actions. It’s more, “These people are objectively assholes, but I still like them. Let’s watch...” It’s all about their journeys to earn that final sunbath on the sin raft.

 

But I guess this is all why it lacks the ability to engage the viewer, at least to me. The stakes are so low, the relationships so underdevloped and uninteresting, that I'm constantly thinking, "why should I care about these people?" At least with a Byronic Romantic hero, or even a more nihilistic one like in Lermontov's 'A Hero of Our Time' and some bits of other Russian novels that followed, those protagonists are wild in their actions, proposing deep philosophical questions in the other characters and the readers. Their actions may be reprehensible, and their responses to them are those of sociopaths, but at least we can filter and interpret and contextualize those actions through other characters. Here, everyone is universally superfluous emotionally, except maybe the wives of the boys, but they are given less character development that the salads eaten by Robin Wright and Naomi Watts. Hell, if they were willing to marry these emotionally stunted Australian Tourism Board commercial background actors, they're probably pretty naive themselves. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the film fails to engage with them on any meaningful level, so we can barely sympathize with these women who had the misfortune of loving these boys who have been under the sexual spell of their Godmothers since they were 18.

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But I guess this is all why it lacks the ability to engage the viewer, at least to me. The stakes are so low, the relationships so underdevloped and uninteresting, that I'm constantly thinking, "why should I care about these people?" At least with a Byronic Romantic hero, or even a more nihilistic one like in Lermontov's 'A Hero of Our Time' and some bits of other Russian novels that followed, those protagonists are wild in their actions, proposing deep philosophical questions in the other characters and the readers. Their actions may be reprehensible, and their responses to them are those of sociopaths, but at least we can filter and interpret and contextualize those actions through other characters. Here, everyone is universally superfluous emotionally, except maybe the wives of the boys, but they are given less character development that the salads eaten by Robin Wright and Naomi Watts. Hell, if they were willing to marry these emotionally stunted Australian Tourism Board commercial background actors, they're probably pretty naive themselves. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the film fails to engage with them on any meaningful level, so we can barely sympathize with these women who had the misfortune of loving these boys who have been under the sexual spell of their Godmothers since they were 18.

 

Brunette wife at least seems to have something going on upstairs, and in fairness to her she did meet the son while he was away at college and away from sexy moms (though her being smart does raise the question of why she never seemed to realize anything was happening, even though her husband was apparently porking Naomi Watts regularly on family vacations).

 

For the blonde wife I have no explanation of her character arc. It seems like she's just there to get knocked up and become an obstacle.

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I think you're a bit focused on the idea that I think the plot of the movie needs to directly punish the asshole characters for it to have taken a moral stance on them. Not necessarily.

 

For example, I liked The Wolf of Wall Street. That movie is most certainly about assholes. Are they punished within the movie? Probably not as much as they should have been. They certainly don't seem to realize how badly they screwed people over. But I can get from that movie's presentation that the filmmakers do realize it. Martin Scorsese ends the film with a very obvious shot that implicates the audience, showing the expectant students listening to the main character's speech about how to do well in business (after we've just watched him lie and cheat and bluff his way through it). He blows out and exaggerates the assholes' antics to make them seem clownish. To me that's an example of a movie that presents tough subject matter and is an effective challenge to the audience, asking us how we feel about what we saw.

 

The lack of perspective in Adore, I would argue, ultimately serves to endorse the bad behavior depicted on screen. Granted, this is a fine line to walk. I think that virtually every time this movie has a chance to fall on the right side of that line it falls on the wrong side. It's actually pretty breathtaking how tone-deaf it is.

 

But that’s the thing, what exactly is their “bad behavior” and why do you feel like it’s “bad?” Roz is already emotionally distant from her husband at the start of the film and Lil is a widow. Both are (relatively) free to pursue (or are at least open to) new relationships. And, at least as far I’m concerned, divorce isn’t a moral failing. We’ve already gone over that the relationships are merely incest adjacent, so there’s nothing really to comment on there. They’re not overtly rude to creep-o Saul. Ian is forced into a loveless marriage. Tom cheats on Lil, but mostly from the feeling societal pressure (partially coming from Roz and Lil) to be with someone closer to his own age. Nothing about any of that is “bad.” Selfish and asshole-y, maybe, but not “bad.” Aside from hurting some people’s feelings, I don’t know that they’ve done anything really to be punished for.

 

Which leads me back to my initial point. The movie isn’t saying whether they’re good or bad. It’s leaving it for the audience to decide.

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But that’s the thing, what exactly is their “bad behavior” and why do you feel like it’s “bad?” Roz is already emotionally distant from her husband at the start of the film and Lil is a widow. Both are (relatively) free to pursue (or are at least open to) new relationships. And, at least as far I’m concerned, divorce isn’t a moral failing. We’ve already gone over that the relationships are merely incest adjacent, so there’s nothing really to comment on there. They’re not overtly rude to creep-o Saul. Ian is forced into a loveless marriage. Tom cheats on Lil, but mostly from the feeling societal pressure (partially coming from Roz and Lil) to be with someone closer to his own age. Nothing about any of that is “bad.” Selfish and asshole-y, maybe, but not “bad.” Aside from hurting some people’s feelings, I don’t know that they’ve done anything really to be punished for.

 

Which leads me back to my initial point. The movie isn’t saying whether they’re good or bad. It’s leaving it for the audience to decide.

 

I think the fact that the sons wind up having wives and children of their own moves this into "bad" territory. Those kids don't deserve to be put through this.

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Which leads me back to my initial point. The movie isn’t saying whether they’re good or bad. It’s leaving it for the audience to decide.

The problem is, in my mind, that not judging characters isn't reason enough for this movie to exist. A lot of movies don't judge their characters. A lot of movies even celebrate immoral characters much worse than anyone here.

 

If the movie's purpose was having the audience judge them, I don't think it accomplishes that. Partly because no one's behavior gets much worse than the first 10 minutes of the movie. So, they either cross the line 10 minutes in or they probably never do. I can't imagine there are many people who make it 90 minutes in and say they've finally gone too far when they give up their daughters.

 

Since there are no conflicts that aren't immediately resolved, it could be a slice of life movie but it's unusual to have a slice of life movie covering 40 years that really only focuses on a relationship. Not to say it can't be done but from the synopsis of the story, it seems like that wasn't the point.

 

That's why this movie is such a turd in my mind. Its not really about anything except this four way relationship. But it doesn't explore the relationship in any meaningful way. Why are these people in love? Why are these people eschewing social norms for this relationship? Why anything?

 

You and Taylor Anne are totally free to like this movie. And I could be wrong. To me, the movie's goals are muddled at best plus it really is insufferably boring. So, it's just a failure all around (except it does look nice and Wright/Watts are good as always).

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