City Paper is not for tourists
Cradling his MacBook, Simon (Devon Bostick) pads into the kitchen for a snack—late-night video-conferencing with eight of your closest high school friends can make you hungry! The topic? Terrorism. “Right, but it’s not blowing up 400 people when I go and buy a hoodie!” one brunette says as Simon shovels corn flakes into his mouth. Five minutes of hormone-and-angst soaked musing on martyrdom follows. This mind-numbing scene is emblematic of the failures in Atom Egoyan’s drudgefest, Adoration, an interpretation of terrorism and the digital age as experienced by the youth. In response to a translation assignment in French class, Simon fictionalizes a tragic family history, in which his father, Lebanese immigrant Sami, plants a bomb in his unwitting, Bethlehem-bound, pregnant fiancée’s luggage. The attempted act of terror goes awry when Israeli security guards intercept Simon’s mother, saving the unborn Simon and 400 passengers in the process. The French teacher (Arsinee Khanjian) is thrilled with this narrative and encourages Simon to develop his piece for a drama festival—by pretending the fictional account is true. After posting his piece online to generate constructive criticism Simon instead gets alarming backlash from Holocaust survivors and eerie praise from skinheads (the Net casts wider than he thought). Simon’s uncle Tom (Scott Speedman)—an unfortunately named central character in a film about tolerance—grows worried about his nephew as Simon’s grip on his identity, and on reality, slackens and he becomes convinced of the story’s veracity. Perhaps his father really was a killer—but you won’t care to find out. Watching contrived representations of teendom wield a cursory knowledge of stale world politics and philosophize on, like, totally controversial cultural norms is, like, not riveting in the least. Egoyan, who seems to think that it is, has churned out an Islam vs. Christianity version of Crash with all the nuance of Alien vs. Predator. Most frustrating, though, is the film’s tin ear—its release seems about a decade too late. While 9/11 still haunts, and though creative advocacy of religious and cultural tolerance will never go out of style, Egoyan’s is a halfhearted attempt to couch the terrorism/bigotry combo in 21st-century technological woes—brought to you by gratuitous Nokia and Apple product placement. Didactic to the point of being a slap in the face, Adoration is about as gripping as Teflon.