We, as people, are always the most curious puzzles, and I think that’s because we’re always prone – at certain stages or periods in our lives – to do something in character that causes us unintentional harm. As much as we like to believe we’re all creatures of fate, that old rub called ‘free will’ inevitably forces us into dark alleys or (worse) the darker recesses of our mind where we think strange thoughts. Some of us even act on those strange thoughts, and that no doubt might lead us down into even darker alleys or into even darker places where the way back is either too treacherous to find or no longer the lesser of evils.
In many respects, that’s the ground trod in THE ADORED, a character study of two women (and maybe even one man) that only flirts usefully with the kind of desolation we all shackle ourselves under in some way, shape, or form.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind no reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Maia (played by a comely Ione Butler) is a model who’s lost in her game. A recent tragedy in her life has put her at odds with her own desires and wishes, and it’s even caused tremendous difficulty in her marriage. Francesca (Laura Martin-Simpson) is a photographer seeking ‘the next hot model’ as a cure for her own depression, and, thus, our two ladies are thrown together. Francesca invites Maia to her countryside home where they can get away, snap photos, and share in their grief, all with hopes of discovering something other than their respective emptinesses. But is that something they can do? Is it something both truly want to do?
THE ADORED is more about the lives of these two women – the choices they’ve made, the struggles they’ve fought – than it is anything else. Writer Jody Medland’s script strives to achieve greater relevance by attaching another character – a man named Adrian (an angry Jake Maskall) – and his therapist, though all the while keeping Adrian’s affiliations in doubt (until the very end, of course), but those secondary relationships are never as important (or as vivid) as the stories connecting our two girls. They’re both toting a load that’s become too heavy to carry – Maia’s appears to be far more personal than Francesca, but “appears” is the operative word – and the effects are manifesting themselves in several different ways.
For example, Maia has begun living out another life. Her waking moments sees her adopting a different personality – one more loving, more adventurous, more vivacious than the person she is otherwise. By contrast, Francesca’s OCD has left her deliberately following her guest about her house re-adjusting anything even modestly disturbed. Once the photographer begins acting like a therapist, it becomes clear that there’s much more to this relationship that she wants than Maia is willing to give, and this serves as the catalyst for Francesca to make it happen.
Adrian’s story feels less authentic, so much so I’d question what purpose anyone (writer, director, anyone) thought it served to the narrative. The film’s A story (the women) is told over a clear passage of time, while all of the B story (Adrian’s) is plucked from the same meeting with his therapist. As such, the inclusion of these scenes tended to pull me out of the events of the ladies – wining, dining, pining, etc. – until Adrian’s emergence in the final act (when Maia truly finds herself between a rock and a hard place). In fact, it feels very much like it was intended to be a ‘twist ending,’ but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what the message (or the purpose) that ‘twist’ delivered.
THE ADORED (2012) is produced by Discovery Films UK. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled through Ariztical Entertainment. As for the technical specifications, the film looks and sounds very solid consistently, and there’s some nice, intimate cinematography in both the public and more private settings and locations. Sadly, the disc comes with no special features, and this is exactly the kind of film that could’ve benefitted from a commentary track or (minimally) a conversation with the cast and crew to enlighten those of us wanting to know a bit more about the story’s particulars.
RECOMMENDED. At its heart, THE ADORED has an interesting character study of two women in conflict despite the appearance otherwise. They’re both driven toward something they can see – some form of happiness – but it remains curiously out of reach. How they deal with that grim reality further defines them, but, alas, as is often the case in stories of this nature neither has what it takes to escape without their being some necessary tragedy. That’s why I would’ve liked the picture to have gone on for a few minutes more – to explore the outcome of lessons learned from their bad decisions – though that probably wasn’t the story the filmmakers set out to tell.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Ariztical Entertainment provided me with a DVD copy of THE ADORED by request for the expressed purpose of completing this review.