Synopsis: Escape to a close-knit seaside community where friendship, love and lust collide. Starring Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts and Golden Globe nominated actress Robin Wright, Adore is a sensual yet thought provoking drama in which two lifelong friends find themselves entangled in passionate sexual relationships with each other’s sons. As they struggle to make sense of conflicting emotions and desires, the lines between family, friendship and morality are blurred. When powerful bonds reach their breaking point, discover what truly keeps us connected.
Perfect Mothers 8.0
eyelights: its lovely cast. its exploration of complex human bonds.
eyesores: its mildly melodramatic ending.
“Did we do that? They’re like young gods.”
Well, this is going to be a divisive one.
‘Perfect Mothers’, which was later released as ‘Adore’, ‘Adoration’ and even ‘Two Mothers’, is a 2013 motion picture based on a novel called ‘The Grandmothers’, by Doris Lessing. A French-Australian co-production, it stars Robin Wright as Roz and Naomi Watts as Lil, two lifelong friends who fall for each other’s adult sons.
Let’s be clear here: Not their own sons, but each other’s sons.
Of course, some people would find this inappropriate, if not downright immoral: the two families have been neighbours their whole lives and are nearly one big family, with every person coming and going in each other’s house as they please. So the emotional ties between the mothers and sons are extremely tight.
Personally, I was intrigued by the concept. As someone who never felt constrained by age (I’ve always been attracted to older and younger women) and societal norms, in principle I don’t really see any issue with the moms having affairs with each other’s sons. After all, the sons are adults and the moms aren’t their guardians.
So I wondered how the picture would approach the topic. Typically, this sort of film would take a moral stance and melodramatically punish the women for crossing the line of so-called propriety. Interestingly, ‘Perfect Mothers’ took a relatively nonjudgmental approach to the subject matter, exploring its many facets objectively.
It’s not a morality tale nor is it an exploitation film: It’s a tasteful look at the emotional complexities of such relationships, of the implications. How does this affect the way they interrelate? Are these relationship sustainable? Can age play a factor over time? What if the young men want to start families of their own?
I liked that there was subtle desire brewing between the couples over time, but that it took a while for the young men to try to seduce the women. By the time that they did, it seemed inevitable and, quite frankly, second nature. The women are initially conflicted, but they discuss it together and realize that they’ve never been happier.
And, thus, carry on their love affairs.
And they are indeed all very happy.
It only comes to a head when one of the young men has to leave their gorgeous Australian seaside homes to go work in Sydney – and meets someone there. And even then, almost everyone deals with the changes in their dynamics in understanding, mature ways. It was nice to see them discuss the issues and be supportive of each other.
It’s actually quite touching to see how close-knit and seemingly healthy they are, so I found it a shame to see it all shift over time, albeit in an organic way. I actually wished that it didn’t have to end, and that we could just see them remain happy for the rest of their lives. Still, I was curious to see where it would go from there.
Unfortunately, there had to be drama, a twist to the tale…
Still, ‘Perfect Mothers’ remains one of my favourite movies so far this year. The cast is superb, the seaside sights are absolutely breathtaking, the characters are interesting, I was stimulated by the questions being raised, titillated by the sexy scenes, and was rather pleased with the open-minded approach that it took.
I enjoyed that it spoke of the tight bond between same-gendered friends, with a few people questioning whether or not Roz and Lil were lesbians. I found it interesting that even Roz and Lil, in a moment of self-reflection, wondered if everyone was right about them – even though they were never attracted to each other.
Then they realized that it didn’t matter.
Sometimes it’s as though people can’t be extremely close without this having to mean romantic love or desire. Personally, I’ve always found that there were dividing lines between friendship, love and sex. They can intermingle in various ways, but they are very different things. And isn’t that why the term “platonic love” was coined?
Finally, I simply adored that two lovely older women could be seen being seduced by two young hunks. We still don’t see enough older women with younger men in pop culture, whereas the reverse remains a standard. This unbalance needs to be redressed, and a movie like like this one can help change this double standard.
And that puts a smile on my face.
Although ‘Perfect Mothers’ begins with a subject that will attract the ire and disapproval of many, it has many layers that I feel truly make it worth watching. It forces its audience to confront a lot of its assumptions about human interactions and relationships and it does it with maturity and intelligence.
It offers much food for thought, and, in my estimation, is must-see discussion fodder.
Date of viewing: May 18, 2016