Adapted from a novel by Doris Lessing (who died this week at 94) and directed by Anne Fontaine (of French movies with strong feminine themes like Nathalie… and Coco Avant Chanel), this should have been a tough, psychodramatic character study and yet, somehow, much here is stilted, and even the overheated sex stuff seems labored and silly.
Two lifelong friends, Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright), have never left the small and picturesque NSW coastal town of their youth, and each now has a 20-ish surf-mad son with major muscles and childish attitudes. When life gets complicated and, for example, Roz’s husband Harold (Ben Mendelsohn) wants the family to relocate to Sydney, the pressure, of course, drives each lad into the arms of the other Mummy, with Ian (Xavier Samuel) winding up in bed with Roz when Harold’s away and Tom (James Frecheville) on with Lil whenever the fancy takes them, an arrangement that works fine when the four of them admit what’s really happening (using some especially lame dialogue), and two years pass before melodrama takes hold, nasty arguments take over and Sophie Lowe and Jessica Tovey turn up to be mistreated. Desperately hoping to be ‘taboo’ but failing, particularly as the ‘old’ Watts and Wright are so gorgeous (why wouldn’t any hormone-addled lad want to score with them?), Fontaine’s uneasy effort should really have been called Self-Adoration.