Atom Egoyan's films are obsessed with the fractured nature of memory and often with how people deal with tragedy by tucking it away into hidden corners of themselves until it seeps from their pores. That is indeed the theme at the root of Adoration, though you'll be forgiven for assuming it's a tricky thriller based on Egoyan's tendency to dole out information deliberately and to underscore everything with the sound of tense, mournful strings.
Devon Bostick is Simon, a sensitive orphan teen raised by his sulky uncle (Scott Speedman), and struggling to give meaning to his parents' deaths through a bizarre school project that's part social experiment. Simon's French teacher (Arsinee Khanjian) urges him to take the story of a Middle Eastern man who attempted to plant a bomb in his wife's luggage, and adopt it as his own tragic history. The story explodes across the Web, and soon Simon has stirred up both controversy and the lingering ghosts of reality that haunt his family.
This is potent, engrossing stuff, though it's hard not to be disappointed when the buried truth is finally out, an outcome both sadder and less earth-shattering than we have been led to believe. The actors thrive in spite of the glacial pacing and overly circuitous narrative path, with surprisingly rich work from Speedman and Rachel Blanchard as Simon's lovely, doomed mother. With all the energy spent on deception and misdirection, the ending might feel a bit like a cheat, but perhaps Egoyan believes that every tragedy, no matter how small, has epic repercussions to those who live through it.
At the Landmark Maple Art Theatre, 4135 W. Maple Rd., Bloomfield Hills; 248-263-2111.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.