Adult Adoption


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Adult Adoption
"Director Karen Knox plays with the tropes of romantic comedy in this different kind of dating game" | Photo: Courtesy of Glasgow Film Festival

Rosy (Ellie Moon) is an orphan, but not of the cute little urchin variety popularised by Dickens adaptations. She’s in her early twenties and, despite having grown up in the care system, she has a flat and a job and generally seems to be doing pretty well. She feels that there is a void in her life, however. Other people engage in family events at the weekend; they have mothers who can supply them with hugs when they’re sad or fathers who buy them silly gifts and make them feel special. Rosy has never felt special to anyone, so when she discovers a network through which lonely young adults can meet older people keen to take on a (platonic) parental role, it looks like the perfect solution.

The notion of adult adoption may be presented here as something rather quirky and odd, but it’s actually commonplace in some countries, such as Japan. It is also, informally, a common subcultural practice. Older LGBTQ+ people frequently take young people who are new to the community under their wings because they know what it’s like to feel excluded. The thing about these systems is that they’re well established and have community support, which reduces the potential for abuse. That doesn’t apply to shady internet matchmaking sites, and though this film explores the subject with a light touch and a good deal of humour, it’s still rife with forms of exploitation.

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Director Karen Knox plays with the tropes of romantic comedy in this different kind of dating game. Rosy thinks of herself as very straightforward and reasonable but she wants all of somebody’s attention and she wants it straight away. The idea of having to share her parent with another child is horrifying. She’s not really willing to put any work into building a relationship because in her mind children – even adult ones – should get all that for free. Over time, she develops a relationship with a woman called Jane which becomes more realistic as it becomes more messed up, with Jane protesting that she has her own life and sometimes she needs time for herself as Rosy, all but stamping her feet, yells back at her that she shouldn’t have got into this situation if she wasn’t prepared to set her personal needs aside.

Whilst there’s ample comedy in all this, it isn’t really enough to hang a film on by itself, and Adult Adoption moves into different territory – with the same spiritedness – when Rosy realises that that same matchmaking service may have been used to lure an old friend of hers into a cult. Impulsive as she is, this is something which she’s ready to tackle head on, and her doing so involves a rather wilder look at what goes on behind closed doors in suburbia. Knox uses a lot of extreme close-ups, creating the feeling of intrusion into the viewer’s personal space, dragging us into Rosy’s world and along on her adventures. Often things which might be significant seem to be happening just out of shot, but if Rosy isn’t paying attention to them, we can’t either.

True to romcom form, love – of the familial variety – emerges accidentally when she’s not looking for it. Though she imagines that the perfect parent would solve all her problems, what she really needs is to learn how to stop creating problems for herself in the first place. Though this may sound twee, Adult Adoption is lively and fresh. Life moves fast. Rosy doesn’t understand it very well, but perhaps she doesn’t need to. She’s only a kid.

Reviewed on: 16 Mar 2022
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Adult Adoption packshot
A woman who aged out of the group home system tries to find her place in the world.

Director: Karen Knox

Writer: Ellie Moon

Starring: Ellie Moon, Rebecca Northan, Leah Doz

Year: 2022

Runtime: 90 minutes


Glasgow 2022

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