Adoration (2019)

Director: Fabrice du Welz
Writer: Fabrice du Welz, Romain Protat, Vincent Tavier
Cast: Thomas Gioria, Fantine Harduin, Benoît Poelvoorde, Anaël Snoek, Gwendolyn Gourvenec, Peter Van den Begin, Charlotte Vandermeersch, Laurent Lucas
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2019

Content Note: ableism/saneism

Paul (Thomas Gioria) lives close to the remote psychiatric hospital his mother (Anaël Snoek) works at. Paul is not allowed to talk to the patients, but when Gloria (Fantine Harduin) is admitted and immediately tries to escape, they meet by chance – and Paul immediately falls in love. Determined to help Gloria any way he can, Paul helps her escape and the two go on the run. But there was a reason that Gloria was in a psychiatric hospital.

Adoration captures Paul’s perspective perfectly, but doesn’t do enough with Gloria to make their story together really work. Thus, the film always feels weirdly distant and also too long.

The film poster showing a digital painting of Paul (Thomas Gioria) and Gloria (Fantine Harduin) standing in a boat, holding hands.

Adoration is such a perfect portrayal of Paul and makes you feel the oppressive feeling of being backed into a corner together with him. He definitely bit off more than he can chew with Gloria and he doesn’t know how to get out of the situation he created for himself. And it’s exactly his kind nature that makes any exit so impossible. That the film so effectively conjures up this oppressive atmosphere means that the ending is also pretty much unbearably depressing. I would have liked that to be different.

Contrary to Paul, Gloria remains a cypher and barely gets a personality outside of her diagnosis. It’s a pretty reductive take that feels even worse because Paul is so intricately characterized. Since the dynamic of the “crazy girl” who completely derails a “simple, good guy’s” life is also a sexist one, I was not particularly impressed with Gloria as a character overall.

Paul (Thomas Gioria) holds Gloria (Fantine Harduin) tight.

Even if Gloria didn’t work as a character for me, Harduin as well as Gioria are absolutely fantastic – even more impressive, considering that they are still so very young. They really make the most of the film. But without getting up close and personal with Gloria as well, and not just Paul, the film – that is about their relationship – continues to feel a little half-baked. It created a distance for me, when the film would have needed me to really crawl into the relationship with Paul and Gloria. This in turn leads to the film feeling overly long.

Adoration definitely has its good moments, and I have seen much worse films for sure. But altogether, it just didn’t really work for me.

Paul (Thomas Gioria) watches as Gloria (Fantine Harduin) is carried away by two orderlies.

Summarizing: It wasn’t great but I’ve definitely seen worse.

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