As soon as heterosexual boys hit a certain age, erotically feminine and Venusian attributes so highly prized in girlfriends become horrifically taboo when displayed and confidently owned by their own mothers. Of course, these restriction don’t necessarily apply to other fellows’ mothers. Or, as depicted in Adore, your best friend’s mother.
Adore, a sophisticated piece of cinema directed by Anne Fontaine and based on Doris Lessing’s The Grandmothers, wreaks creative havoc on two traditional female archetypes. One is the caring and often too-busy-for-sex Mother, represented by the Moon. The other is sexual, sensual and loving Aphrodite, symbolized by Venus.
Generally compartmentalized in men’s minds and emotions, these two archetypes often become an either–or proposition, especially when a woman’s child-bearing years are over. To fully appreciate Adore takes a mindset unafraid to embrace femaleness in all its complexity: Moon and Venus, both effulgent and expressive, in one woman.
The moms – the movie was previously titled Two Mothers – are best friends Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright), who reside in an idyllic seaside town in Australia and whose sons – Lil’s Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Roz’s Tom (James Frecheville) – are about the same age. Lil’s husband died when Ian was young. As a result, mother and son spent considerable time at the home of Roz, her husband Harold (Ben Mendelsohn) and Tom. And because Harold, an academic who resides at university, is often absent, the gatherings typically consist of a foursome that’s less like a mothers-and-sons combo and more like a meet-up of friends.
The young men, who seem to be in their early 20s, have grown up with no line of demarcation between the maternal Lunar archetype expressed by their biological mothers and the sexy Venusian one exuded by Mom’s best friend who has also served as a surrogate caregiver. These special circumstances, in which the Moon and Venus are a two-in-one package, makes the daring move by Lil’s Ian – who winds up in bed with Roz – seem less daring than it is. Roz’s Tom is incensed when he learns Ian has been having sex with his mother, and retaliates by getting physical with Lil. And, just like that, all participants are extremely happy in their new lifestyle.
Both Lil and Roz realize a serious line has been crossed but no member of this quartet has the willpower to stop. Instead, in a sincerely sacrificial effort, both women prepare for that sure-to-come day when they’ll be replaced by younger women, as their sons create their own family units. “We’ll be model mothers-in-law,” says Roz. However, feelings eclipse logic.
Also notable is Adore’s gorgeous floating dock. Set amidst the sea like an island, the dock suggests an archetypal haven and also the archetypal separateness stemming from these four characters’ rogue but committed romantic lives.
Astrology Film Review: ☽♀ (Moon, Venus)