Ellie Moon stars as “Rosy” in director Karen Knox’s ADULT ADOPTION, a levelFILM release.
Credit : levelFILM
Director Karen Knox and actor-writer Ellie Moon make a charming collaborative team in the absurdist comedy “Adult Adoption.” Set in contemporary Toronto, the film follows Rosy (Ellie Moon), who has aged out of foster care and is now working as a bank teller. She has a solid job, but is living a life that does not feel personal to her. Rosy seeks to make sense of the world around her, to find a semblance of purpose and to fill the void felt from growing up without parental figures. One day her coworker Helen (Leah Doz) brings up the idea of meeting prospective parents, an idea to which Rosy immediately warms to. Through an online service, Rosy decides to connect with older adults who are in search of adult surrogate children. The journey of familial love introduces her to “dates” with various parental-like figures who have the potential of stepping into a guardian role, but they are figuring things out just like Rosy is. Karen Knox brings an off-center sensibility to her direction, which complements the protagonist’s awkward path of self-discovery. The zany storytelling accentuates the ridiculousness of assuming anyone has the answers to all of life’s mysteries.
From loneliness and neglect to chosen families and self-acceptance, significant themes are approached from a tinted lens. “Adult Adoption” is made with a soft pastel palette, as though depicted from rose-colored glasses. The production design by Talia Missaghi and the cinematography by J Stevens add to the cautious optimism this film evokes. The protagonist shares some of her deepest most vulnerable thoughts to strangers. One potential parental figure in particular, with whom Rosy spends increased time with, is not as attentive as Rosy would like. The sense of frustration Rosy experiences when the disillusion of life kicks in is one of the more resonating moments in the film. After years of not feeling wanted from foster families and adoption agencies, she wants to finally experience being part of a family. Ellie Moon’s strength both as an actor and writer brings a great level of openness to understanding Rosy’s perspective.
Moon’s screenplay finds strength in the dynamics shown between Rosy and two prospective parents. Through the characters’ interactions, the film engages with manifestations of love and loneliness in familial relationships. Everyone involved in the adult adoption process is searching for a balm to solitude in some way. Sometimes the simplest gestures can speak to a need of being comforted. Rosy at one point asks one of the prospective parents she regularly meets with to brush her hair. With a quirky pop song bopping in the background, the hair-brushing scene shows Rosy’s level of maturity as though she is frozen in youth. In addition to Rosy’s childlike bedroom and the various uses of pastel colors throughout the film, “Adult Adoption” makes use of visual cues to accentuate that the protagonist is emotionally stuck at a certain age.
Self-love plays a role in Rosy uncovering her hurt and finding a way to process it. She often searches for emotional support in other people. She brings with her a certain level of expectation from them, in addition to her needs of being accepted. The journey leads her to realize the importance of her own self-acceptance. With a single line in the film — “I am the creator of my own life” — Rosy embraces the practice of self-love with much greater complexity and control. As such, the world begins to open up for her. In one of the film’s most resonating moments, she walks out of a club with a spring in her step. Through Moon’s facial expression and the way this scene is shot, her surroundings become clearer. This moment is a fitting parallel to the very last shot of the film that sees Rosy surrounded by trees: a significant symbol of growth, change, nourishment. Rosy’s life is in bloom.
The film tackles a subject not often explored in many films — adult adoption. This subject is conveyed with care, and an emphasis on the wide range of emotions one would imagine this process involves. There’s also a quirkiness to the telling of this story. From the music choices and acting, to the direction and writing, “Adult Adoption” brings a mostly refreshing approach to big themes. While some scenes feel too lightweight for the subject matter, the film more often than not reaches a strong balance of humor and sadness. Above all, Ellie Moon’s performance as Rosy is an endearing anchor. She captures the sensibility of a young woman trying to figure out her path in life while frozen in time.
“Adult Adoption” is currently screening at the Revue Cinema in Toronto.