Adopting Audrey – Film Review

Based on a true story, an adult woman puts herself up for adoption and forms a bond with the misanthropic patriarch of her adoptive family. 

Written and directed by Michael Cahill, Adopting Audrey is carefully crafted with understanding and emotion, telling the story of a woman who just wants to feel love. After seeing the lack of it from her parents, it was heart breaking to see Audrey talk to them in her head, hoping for better. In a world of social media, it’s only natural that she would then stumble upon an opportunity for more, making Cahill’s story feel natural and real, rather than a fictional storybook come to life. With a 90-minute runtime, I often felt like I was waiting for more to happen to quicken the pace, but when you realise that you’re living someone’s life alongside them, seeing the good and bad as they happen, it feels like an easy film to slip into. Cahill’s direction gives hope to the lows and beauty to the highs, building a world based on reality, yet bringing a cinematic feel.

Audrey is played by Jena Malone who brings truth to the role. With this style of film, the main character can often be made out to be a quirky individual who no one watching can truly relate to, but Malone’s humility is a breath of fresh air. Audrey is doing all she can to find security in life, and Malone’s grace and patience portrays her character as someone with motives an audience can really understand and even relate to. She shares the screen with Robert Hunger-Bühler who plays Otto, the adoptive father who isn’t sure to begin with. As much as this film tells Audrey’s story, it tells Otto’s too. No matter how old we get, we seek family, so to see him getting more understanding from someone he’s recently met rather than his own blood is upsetting. Hunger-Bühler gives a strong performance in keeping his guard up but slowly letting his feelings known. Audrey and Otto don’t have a perfect friendship, but the performances behind each character feel weighted with understanding and care, making them great to watch on screen together.

This film presents a clash between suburban dreams and nomadic living, showing Audrey never really finding home or hope in either. Ethan Palmer’s cinematography gorgeously sweeps us through both. The film shows us breakdown of relationships and marriage, but how blended families can work even more so than blood. We see this a lot through Audrey being in her car. When driving in the day, the radio plays and sun streams in. When night falls, she’s sleeping alone or feeling fear from Otto’s son. We move through the film at Audrey’s pace, feeling the good and bad as she does.

At times, I felt slightly underwhelmed by the life and choices we were watching, but the final third of the film really picks up momentum in moments we don’t expect. When Audrey confronts her own parents, we finally begin to understand why she chose to go on this journey in the first place, but it would have been wonderful to see why Otto acted the way he did and how his thoughts on being a father changed.

Adopting Audrey is a film about craving the connection of a family, and the lengths we travel to feel that care. It’s a sweet reminder that as human beings we all want to experience joy and love with the people closest to us, no matter who we are.

Adopting Audrey will be available on Digital Download from 13th March.

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