By: Trevor Chartrand
Quirky and surreal, Adult Adoption is the bizarrely unique directorial feature film debut from Karen Knox (star of Letters to Satan Claus). The movie explores its characters with a delicate balance of intrusive empathy, and Knox’s filmmaking is executed in such an uncomfortable way that viewers may feel like they’re trespassing on the intimate details of a person’s private life.
Adult Adoption was written by Ellie Moon. Moon (The Last Porno Show) also stars as Rosy, a young orphan woman who grew up in the foster care system, and “aged out” of it relatively unscathed. She’s independent and functional, finding success in a banking job. When a friend points out her achievements in life are purely surface-level, she realizes, in spite of everything she’s done for herself, she still has no family: no mother, no father, only loneliness. To fill this missing gap in her life, she joins a strange match-making website that’s specifically designed to connect older people with young adults to represent a platonic parental figure in their lives.
The camera’s gaze is what gives Adult Adoption that unnerving, unwelcoming sensation; combined with the uncomfortable nature of the premise – a dating service to find a mother and a father – makes for a viewing experience that left me shuddering. The fly-on-the-wall cinematography leaves a sensation of claustrophobic voyeurism.
As the writer, Moon does a sensational job of exploring these characters, grounding them to the point that it becomes difficult to watch their struggles. The film is not without humour either but, again, it’s often at the expense of the characters and their awkward discomfort. The cast all lend a hand to this sensation with nuanced performances that bring a heavy sense of realism to their roles. While the film appears light and colourful, there’s a darkness underneath that can’t be ignored.
Adult Adoption is undoubtedly entertaining, but it may leave a disagreeable taste in one’s mouth. Ultimately, this is a truly fresh story that’s executed with a unique, otherworldly feel; a virtue that’s all too rare.
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