Kudos to director Anne Fontaine. I enjoyed Adore, and one perspective of the pain possible or inherent in loving who we love. It was much more complex and honest and forgiving than I expected. (I haven’t read the short story it’s based on.) I don’t want to get into biological imperatives or what’s right and wrong in love amidst consenting adults who are not related. Sometimes it’s enough to just consider the many facets of loving who we love.
I was going to write some pissed off missive about how exhausting and annoying it is to have that rare movie with women leads, which then revolves around their angst about the diminishing returns of their sex appeal. Another movie where older women fall in love with younger men, and how for the women it always begins or devolves into shame. Shame over their age and bodies and the inevitability of their bodies aging and that when they do the younger man’s love will evaporate and he will run. Shame because all women are supposed to be maternal to any man younger than them by 13 years plus. That is, if they could possibly be old enough to be their mother, then there is some law that they must then behave as if they are, indeed, their mother. No matter how much they love and are loved, they have some unwritten obligation to release their men to live a full life, which apparently is not possible with an older women. Bow down before the great double-standard of a patriarchal society.
No matter that in Sabrina (1954 and 1995 versions) the much older Humphrey Bogart or Harrison Ford, respectively, could fall in love with the daughter of his family’s chauffeur. No matter that he watched her grow up. We’re talking the time-honored male-female archetype of the successful businessman who nets the much younger catch. It’s not only de rigueur, it’s de facto. While Robin Wright and Naomi Watts play successful businesswomen in Adore, the reverse (of course!) does not hold true for them.
In life and in movies, men can routinely date/bed/marry women decades younger and elicit at most a shrug. But in life and in movies such as Adore, and in Prime (2005) with Uma Thurman, and I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007) with Michelle Pfeiffer, the women realize the ‘error of their ways’ in dating younger men who love them, and shame themselves into releasing them to go find younger women. Even Something’s Gotta Give (2003) with Diane Keaton had her leaving the loving and supportive doctor Keanu Reeves plays for the smarmy commitment-phobe played by Jack Nicholson. And if we’re to understand that women who have the looks of Thurman, Pfeiffer, Wright and Watts think they can’t hang on to younger men, then we mere mortals should surely head to the nearest nunnery.
The sexist/ageist double standard survives and thrives in life and in movies. Women attracted to younger men get shamed with the pejorative ‘Cougars’ – while older men with younger women get ‘attaboys’ and perceptions of strength and virility, if it’s even commented on at all.
That said, Adore was a fascinating view, thanks to the script, the director, the cinematographer and the actors: Robin Wright, Naomi Watts, Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville.
Let’s close on a lighter note, with a nod to the current patron saints of possibilities for the older woman, Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
You can rent Adore on Amazon. If you do, pay attention around the 23-minute mark, with a blink-and-you-might-miss-it-moment courtesy of Ian (Xavier Samuel), who deeply loves Robin Wright’s character, and who she has the nerve (!) to love in return. So that’s how you light a cigarette in the wind. Here’s a YouTube clip: