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Review: Adult Adoption

January 13, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Adult Adoption is the Toronto-set feature directorial debut of Karen Knox, best known as the creator of the CBC Gem series Homeschooled.

The film is written by Canadian actress and playwright Ellie Moon, who also stars in it as Rosy, a 25-year-old woman living in Toronto who has aged out of the foster care system. Because she was never adopted, she is going through life without a family to turn to for support.

Rosy works at a bank, and is good at her job, but she’s also emotionally immature and resistant to change (her cupboard is stocked entirely with boxes of Kraft Dinner), which makes it hard for her to navigate aspects of daily life.

When her co-worker Helen (Leah Doz) suggests “adult adoption” to fulfill her desire for parental guidance, Rosy looks it up on the internet, and lo and behold, it is a real thing. She finds a website the links her to lonely older adults in search of surrogate children, connecting with Brian (Michael Healey), who tried the same thing with a young man, and Jane (Rebecca Northan), a high school teacher estranged from her own daughter. This leads to a series of weird pseudo-dates that are as awkward as can be expected.

There is a quirky quality to Adult Adoption, from the pastel-hued colour palate and pink decorations that adorn Rosy’s apartment and desk, to the jumpy soundtrack of hyperpop songs that she constantly listens to in her pink headphones. But Knox and Moon smartly don’t let the quirkiness of the premise get the better of the film. There is a sense of loneliness and pathos running through Adult Adoption that helps it feel grounded, even through the absurdity of some of the scenarios, and the film builds to a finale that is actually bittersweet.

This could have simply been an indie quirk-fest, but instead it’s a surprisingly thoughtful look at the messiness of trying to build a family and the process of delayed maturation. The whole thing has a sort of hazy, slightly faded look to it that highlights this wistful sense of longing, with the cinematography by J Stevens complimenting the soft pastel colours of the production.

While a subplot involving a religious cult feels somewhat underdeveloped, Adult Adoption serves as an assured debut for Knox and Moon, who carries the film with an engaging performance that successfully walks the thin line between showing Rosy’s eccentricities and making her a relatable character.

Adult Adoption opens on January 14th at the Revue Cinema in Toronto. It’s being distributed in Canada by levelFILM.

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