Director (and co-writer): Fabrice du Welz
Cast: Thomas Gioria, Fantine Harduin, Benoit Poelvoorde, Emmanuelle Beart, Beatrice Dalle, Laurent Lucas
Paul is a 12 year old boy who lives with his mother, a nurse working at a mental institution in the middle of a forest. While visiting his mother at the clinic, Paul crosses paths with Gloria, a schizophrenic teenager, and falls in love with her to the point that he decides to help her escape at all costs after she commits a crime. The pair embarks on a trip across the Ardennes woods which will reveal the extent of Gloria’s dangerous madness and Paul’s devotion to her. – Letterboxd
Some people say that our first loves are the deepest and most memorable. It certainly would apply to Adoration who sees a 12 year old boy, Paul’s fascination and infatuation with the latest resident, Gloria at the psychiatric clinic where his mother works. This story is mostly through the eyes of the main character Paul, played by young actor Thomas Gioria. Independent stories usually like to use the view of one character and it works very well as it keeps the story fairly straightforward while leaving it space for the unknown to happen. The audience learns with the leading character and is able to connect with their situation. In this case, Adoration does a rather good job.
Thomas Gioria does a fairly good job at bringing Paul to life the most subtle and quiet way. Paul is a shy boy who lives secluded from everyone and keeps to himself mostly so when a beautiful teenager Gloria (Fantine Harduin) literally bumps into him, its no surprise that he will be fascinated at not only someone around his age but also the questions of why she keeps trying to run away from the clinic which in his mind should be for her own good. However, Gloria is a convincing girl whether its because Paul chooses to believe her situation or maybe his attraction to her makes him feel the need to protect her but he follows through after she makes a huge “mistake” to run away. Its the journey to Gloria’s grandfather’s home and the time spent with these two characters and their increasingly toxic relationship. To be honest, Paul’s character is rather dialed down that while the movie is mostly seen through his point of view, its Gloria’s slow reveal of her psychological problems that become the shocking elements and simply how much she is able to keep Paul in her control while also having him also be somewhat of her anchor because of their reliance on each other.
Toxic relationships between these two teenagers are the heart of the film. Against some impressive musical pairing as well being able to start off the story in a fairly light-heart escape and the innocence of the characters (especially Paul) gives them room to grow on this journey of running away. The story ends rather abruptly but at the same time, leaves the audience room to ponder on this relationship and where it can take them especially as they are just teenagers and dealing with some rather extreme situations especially as Gloria seemingly does fluctuate between the good and bad days simply with triggers. The ending is a bit of the headscratcher but its easy to see how its deliberately meant to be that way because it doesn’t quite matter where these two go but rather what Paul chooses despite now understanding the situation that he’s in.
Adoration is a teenage runaway story essentially. Is it completely expected what they go through? Probably not. Is it hard to imagine that Gloria was “lying” to Paul about her situation? She technically wasn’t because in her mind, this is all real. Despite its predictable elements, the setting on the forest and wilderness and having the different strangers that they meet on the path as well as the way Gloria’s character peels away in all its layers of mental illness is done with a lot of detail and care. For a young actress like Fantine Harduin, it is one outstanding performance that is well worth a watch.
Adoration has one more screening during Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 20th at 4pm at Cineplex Odeon Quartier – Salle 10. You can find more info HERE.