Devon Bostick is a high school student who pretends his parents were terrorists in "Adoration." (Sony Pictures Classics)
The line between truth and imagination grows even thinner in the Internet age; and as the person we appear to be drifts easily away from the person we actually may be, the temptation looms to drift right along into the ether of possibility.
The ever-inventive Canadian writer-director Atom Egoyan ("The Sweet Hereafter") explores this with startling results in "Adoration," a very personal story that somehow ends up wrapped in modern concerns of terrorism and high-tech alienation.
Simon (Devon Bostick) is re-writing the story of a terrorist couple for his French class when he puts his own dead mother and father in place of the actual terrorists. After his teacher, Sabine (Arsinee Khanjian), encourages him to run with the story it becomes something of a performance art project that the two present to the class. Except the class members think Simon is telling the truth.
Soon enough Simon's story has become the subject of student chat rooms, which then branch out to include an ever-widening and more worrisome group of Web surfers.
As his audience grows, Simon, filling holes in the life he shares with his stressed uncle (Scott Speedman), continues to act as if the story is real, and Sabine -- who has a story of her own -- realizes she has helped create a modern media monster.
All of which could seem like sci-fi tomfoolery if Egoyan didn't root it in such tangible family tragedy. Everyone involved is trying to work through the very real circumstances of a life they didn't ask for.
Egoyan is nothing if not low key; and as dramatic as passages are here, he keeps the tone under control and the story believable. As he hints at myriad endings, the film's tension builds, but he's not merely messing around. He senses the possibilities, and they are scary indeed.
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