I wanted to touch my head to the floor several times toward the movie screen at the end of Atom Egoyan's “Adoration,” but not in reverence to it. I was just glad it was over.
The movie is about a New York kid, Simon (Devon Bostick), who tells his high-school class the story of his parents' blowing up a passenger plane for Allah, but that's like saying going to the airport is about taking your shoes off. I eventually lost track of all the plot points, but there's also a sullen, tow-truck-driving uncle (Scott Speedman) taking care of the boy, a creepy drama teacher (Arsinee Khanjian) encouraging him to explore his past, an angry granddad (Kenneth Welsh) reminiscing about the kid's mother and a few chat rooms' worth of kooks who weigh in on this story about … what, exactly? Revenge? Fantasy? Guilt? Betrayal? The injustice of paying a tow-release fee on top of a parking ticket?
Turns out (early, not giving anything away) that Simon's story is a fake, a drama exercise he's using to work out real demons associated with the death of his parents. It also turns out that Simon's story (and his parents') has nothing to do with terrorism. And then it turns out that Egoyan's film doesn't, either.
Egoyan, writer and director, tries his utmost not to help clear things up by telling his story nonlinearly, with frequent use of flashbacks mixed with scenes of events that only happen in the characters' imaginations. Simon walks around recording it all on his cell phone, which adds little but an approximation to the overall cheap look of the movie.
Simon carries his monologue online, where it's picked up in chat rooms by a cross-section of society whose stultifying arguments are only bested by the principle characters, who carry on as if they're getting high in a hot tub while talking about religion.
In the end all that terrorism stuff is completely discarded. The big revelation involves the drama teacher, Sabine, coming forward with a secret that has nothing to do with Simon's monologue, after appearing out-of-the-blue at his house a couple of times in a scary-looking burqa to test his uncle's tolerance.
In the movie, Sabine is fired for instigating such extreme acts of confrontational idiocy. Too bad the same couldn't have happened to Egoyan. (R) 110 min. HIIII S